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An eight-year-old outsider found a fossilized shark tooth of a long-extinct species earlier this August 2022 while on a family vacation in South Carolina.
Young Riley Gracely of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, along with his father, Justin Gracely, his mother, Janelle Gracely, and his brother, Collin, traveled to Myrtle Beach, SC, for vacation in August.
During the trip, the family stopped at Palmetto Fossil Excursions, an educational fossil-hunting expedition facility in Summerville, South Carolina.
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There, Riley “walked around the base of these mounds of gravel and dirt and noticed what he thought was the edge of a tooth,” the proud father, Justin Gracely, said in an email to Fox News Digital.
“When he pulled it out, he was so excited.”
Riley had discovered a 4.75-inch angustidens tooth in the company’s “premium” gravel bed.
“We are so proud of Riley,” added Justin Gracely.
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The father said Palmetto Fossil Excursions staff explained the significance of Riley’s find, which reportedly stood out for its “species, size and condition.”
Angustidens were a prehistoric megatoothed shark that lived about 33 million to 22 million years during the Oligocene and Miocene.
That’s according to Mindat.org, a nonprofit mineral database and mineralogical reference website hosted by the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy of Keswick, Virginia.
Experts believe that angustidens were a close relative of megalodons, an extinct prehistoric shark said to be the largest shark species that ever lived, which scientists have concluded based on fossils discovered since then.
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Megalodons are said to have lived about 23 million to 3.6 million years ago during the early Miocene and Pliocene.
Scientists estimate that megalodons were up to 68.6 feet long.
Angustidens, on the other hand, is believed to reach up to 30.5 feet, according to Prehistoric-Wildlife.com, a prehistoric creature guide.
“CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! This young man just scored a 4.75″ Angustiden tooth in our Premium Gravel Layer piles on a dry dig!!!,” the Palmetto Fossil Excursions group wrote in a Facebook post. message on August 11.
“Just to give perspective – any [angustidens] over 4″ is the equivalent of finding a 6″ [megalodon]and a [angustidens] at 4.75″ is the equivalent of finding a 6.5″ megalodon tooth,” the group added.
“Meet a future paleontologist! Well done, young man!”
“Again, congratulations, kid! Truly the find of a lifetime!!!”
One commenter, responding to the post about the find of Riley Gracely, wrote on Facebook: “So precious! He already has a love for fossils!”
Another person wrote, “Meet a future paleontologist! Well done, young man!”
Riley Gracely’s father, Justin Gracely, also told Fox News Digital that his son is an avid fisherman who loves science and the outdoors.
“His collection is still in its early stages, so he’ll keep it for now, but who knows in time,” wrote Justin Gracely. “It would be nice if others could enjoy it too.”
The father added of the trip, “We probably found a total of 7 or 8 types of teeth.”
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The Gracelys enjoy fossil hunting as a family and have done creek excursions, dry digs, and other high-quality gravel digs.
“This was our third straight year of field trips with this outfit, and they were the best,” wrote Justin Gracely. “I wish they had these excursions when I was younger because it’s great.”
He continued, “We go on vacation to Myrtle Beach every summer, so ever since Riley and his brother Collin could walk, we’ve been looking for these treasures on the beach.”
“It’s something that anyone of any age can enjoy.”
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Palmetto Fossil Excursions explains that the team “started as a journey for two individuals to share their passion for paleontology with others,” as it states on its website.
“Today, the Palmetto team is made up of multiple guides from different backgrounds, each bringing something unique to the table.”
It adds, “Together, we use our unique capabilities to work together to find new locations and new ways to teach others about the past life that existed in the South Carolina coastal plain so we can continue to provide an ever-evolving experience.” to our customers.”
They also explain more about ‘the premium layer’ on Facebook.
It is “the fossil layer that we are currently excavating from another location and transporting to our 100-acre pit,” the group notes on its Facebook page.
“We call it ‘premium’ because of the high quality of preservation in the hastalis, tigers, cows, great whites and bull shark teeth that come out.”
“The other location was going to be transformed into a giant pond, so it wasn’t really an option to organize our long-term excursions there as we would have liked. Instead of losing all the amazing fossils to the water, the owner of that one said location has so graciously allowed us to excavate the fossil layer for the past 3 months and transport it to our well.”
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They also explain: “We call it ‘premium’ because of the high quality of preservation in the hastalis, tigers, cows, great whites and bull shark teeth coming out. There are also a large number of megalodon teeth and large angustidens in the layer, along with whale, tapir and other mammalian teeth.”
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They add, “Put simply, this is one of the richest fossil layers we’ve ever seen. The colors on the fossils are also amazing, which is caused by the sediment they’re fossilized in.”