How to photograph and describe your fossil for identification
How to photograph and describe your fossil megalodon teeth for identification.
No cost solutions for better pictures of your shark teeth and other fossils
Practical ways to increase your chances of having your shark tooth or other fossil identified
Don't have a megalodon tooth to take pictures of? You can find some megalodon teeth for sale in my online store.
Helpful tips to increase the likelihood your megalodon shark tooth or other fossil will be identified
So you found a megalodon shark tooth, at least that is what you think it is. Whether you found it on the beach, a gift shop, purchased it online, or found it on a dirt road congratulations. But what if it isn't a megalodon shark tooth, what if it is another type of fossilized shark tooth. Or maybe it is a different fossil all together, or maybe it is a rock? You can walk down to your local museum and walk around in hopes someone with a degree in paleontology but most likely you will snap a picture and post it to a forum or Facebook group, perhaps email it to a friend who has more knowledge on it than you do. If so please read on.
This article will help you take better pictures of your megalodon tooth, fossilized shark tooth, or other fossil for identification or other purposes.
I get emails on a regular basis asking to identify, authenticate, or look at a megalodon or other shark tooth and determine if it has been restored. While I don't advertise or charge for this service I try to take some time to help with identification and information when I can. The problem is without seeing a fossil in person it can sometimes be difficult to determine what it is, especially without any additional information or quality pictures. Below are some of the common issues I see frequently and how to correct them in order to have a better shot at having your megalodon tooth or other fossil identified.
General Geographic Location: You don't have to give specific GPS coordinates of your newly found fossil site but having a geographic location of where you found your megalodon, other shark tooth, or fossil will help it get identified. If you found a shark tooth and you were in Oklahoma that will eliminate many species. This applies to not only shark teeth but other fossils, if a specific animal did not inhabit that part of the country/world it helps to eliminate possibilities.
Location Conditions: There is a big difference if you found a shark tooth at the bottom of a recently dug hole for a pond, on a dirt road, or at a pawn shop.
If a large hole was dug for a new pond on your property and a shark tooth or other fossil came out of it there is a very high chance that is where that fossil is originally from.
If it came from a dirt road there is a possibility it came in from a quarry many miles away.
If the shark tooth that you purchased came from a pawn shop, rock store, or you purchased it online then the original location can be almost impossible to narrow down.
Other Helpful Information: Other information that can be helpful when identifying your fossilized shark tooth or other fossil is basic information. How large is it, does it feel dense/heavy or is it lightweight, is it smooth/rough, does it have a distinct smell, any information that may not be easily conveyed in pictures can help with your fossil identification.
Fossil Identification Pictures:
Focus: Possibly the most important element of a picture is focus, often identifying different species of shark teeth fossils can come down to minor details, especially if the megalodon shark tooth or other species is in poor condition. So whether you are posting your fossilized shark teeth for sale or are just trying to get them identified camera focus is every important. Making sure the fossil and camera is still is the easiest way to assure focus along with decent lighting and proper zoom/orientation.
Lighting: Lighting plays a crucial role when taking pictures of shark teeth or other fossils. Subtle color differences or small details can be lost if a picture is taken in poor lighting, it is also difficult for a camera lens to focus on a megalodon tooth with bad lighting. Turning on the flash on your camera/phone, flipping on a light switch, or even walking outside into the sunshine can significantly improve the lighting in your fossil picture and make it much easier for someone to identify if you have a priceless megalodon tooth or a worthless rock.
Scale: It can be difficult to determine the size of an item in a picture if there is nothing to reference. A megalodon 4" tooth in a child's hand could appear to be 6" while a 6" tooth in a large hand could appear to be 5". Having something for scale can help significantly when identifying fossils. Often size can help illuminate possibilities, for instance fossilized pig teeth have some similarities to fossilized mammoth teeth, however fossilized pig teeth will almost never be much over 2" long while fossilized mammoth teeth will almost never be under 4" long. So having something that shows if a shark tooth that is for sale is half an inch long or half a foot long helps significantly. You should also include measurements as mentioned above (you can view the following article on How to Measure Megalodon Shark Teeth) but having something for scale like a coin or a ruler helps significantly.
Distance / Zoom: Pictures that are taken close to the shark tooth or other fossil will be much easier to identify. While an additional picture showing the situation "in situ" where the megalodon tooth or other fossil was found can be helpful the best identification pictures are ones that are taken close up and that occupy most of the frame. This is especially relevant today as more people are using smart phones with smaller screens to view these pictures, having the majority of the picture be taken up with the shark tooth will make identification easier.
Background: Taking a picture of your megalodon shark tooth that you hope to have identified and list for sale on a plain and contrasting background is very helpful for someone trying to identify it. Removing clutter in the background makes it easier to get an unobstructed view of the shark tooth or fossil. Achieving this can be as simple as placing the shark tooth on a piece of printer paper, on a solid colored plate or countertop, or other single colored item that is a contrasting color to the fossil and will also allow you to achieve the criteria listed above.
Angles: Many fossils, especially shark teeth have similarities across species. For instance it can be almost impossible to tell the difference between a great white shark tooth and a small megalodon shark tooth if you can only see the tip of the tooth. For this reason and others it is important to take pictures from multiple angles. Having pictures of multiple sides of the megalodon tooth or other fossil will help it not only be identified but can help with assessment of the condition and value if listing the fossil shark tooth for sale.
** All of the side by side pictures of fossilized shark teeth taken for this article were taken on a point and shoot camera that is almost a decade old. I started taking pictures for this article using a new DSLR camera but thought that might not be realistic, I then took some shots on my smart phone but found even though my phone is a couple of years old the picture quality was really good. I decided to pull the old point and shoot digital camera (cheap model from many years ago) out to show that with a minimal amount of work and a very old/inexpensive camera it is possible to get pictures with good enough quality for identification. All of the side by side pictures were taken with the same camera and utilize the tips mentioned above to improve image quality of the megalodon shark teeth photographed. **
I hope this article helps you take better pictures of your megalodon teeth, other fossilized shark teeth, or any fossil you want to take a picture of for identification purposes. If you would like to purchase some fossil shark teeth I have some for sale in my online store.
Megalodon Shark Teeth For Sale