What Shark Has Black Teeth: Why, How, When, Detailed Facts


What Shark Has Black Teeth: Why, How, When, Detailed Facts

Sharks are magnificent, oceanic animals with sharp teeth. Let’s learn more about shark teeth and their color. 

Most shark breeds have white or cream-colored teeth, which acquire a black color after undergoing the process of fossilization. Since sharks shed their teeth often, the teeth get buried under sediment and start absorbing the minerals present there. This gives the teeth a dark color.

There is a lot of speculation about the color of shark tooth and what it signifies. Allow us to take you through some of the most commonly asked questions in this regard. 

Image Credits: “30/4/2013 Shark Teeth” by barbourians is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What color are real shark teeth?

Teeth are an important part of a shark’s anatomy and help them function efficiently. But, what color are real shark teeth? Let’s figure it out. 

Natural shark teeth are usually white in color. This is the teeth color newborn sharks have. However, shark teeth that are shed make their way to the bottom of the sea and get buried underneath the sediment. The minerals in the sediment will replace the organic matter of the teeth, and the color of the teeth changes. 

Of course, the process takes a very long time, and the color can vary from dark gray to brown, black, or beige. 

Why are shark teeth black?

Image Credits: “Fossilized Shark Teeth” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

You might have seen pictures of shark teeth that are black. But, have you wondered why? Let’s explore together.

Shark teeth blacken over time due to the process of fossilization. Sharks have teeth that are not attached to their roots and, therefore, fall off very easily. These teeth get detached and sink to the bottom of the ocean, where they are fossilized over time. This is why the teeth you find near river beds are black.

The fossilization process occurs because the minerals in the soil or the rock in which the tooth gets buried replace its natural minerals. 

Do any sharks have black teeth?

Sharks have strong, sharp teeth. But, have you ever wondered whether any shark type is born with black teeth? Let’s find out.

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Shark teeth, no matter the species, are either white or cream-colored. Sharks do not have black teeth, but it is understandable why the confusion arises. Shark teeth become black after fossilization, a process that takes years. That said, a shark that has been dead for millions of years may have black teeth.

Colored teeth are commonly found in the animal kingdom, but sharks have teeth that are much like humans in terms of color.

How old is a black shark tooth?

As we have mentioned earlier, shark teeth become black after thousands of years. But, how old is a black shark tooth? Let’s figure it out.

A black shark tooth is often thousands or millions of years old. This is because the process of fossilization is quite extensive, and it takes ages for the normal, white, or cream-colored shark tooth to get fossilized and turn black. Sometimes, they do not turn black but become gray, tan, or even beige.

It might not be possible to determine the exact age of a black shark tooth, but there are certain ways you can get an approximate idea.

Black shark tooth identification

Image Credits: “Fossilized shark teeth” by naturenps is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Identifying black shark teeth may seem like an easy task, but it actually takes a lot of effort. Let’s learn more in this regard. 

Black shark teeth can be easily identified by looking at their length and shape. Usually, shark teeth are small (around 2 inches in length) and are triangular. Some shark teeth are bigger than 2 inches, but you can identify them by looking for coarse, serrated edges that help the shark bite into their food.

Needless to say, shark teeth will vary from breed to breed. Some species have smaller teeth while others have longer ones. For instance, lemon sharks have teeth 0.75 inches in length on average. 

What kind of sharks have black teeth?

Sharks are independent animals that use their teeth to fend for themselves. Let’s learn more about the kind of sharks that have black teeth.

Sharks do not have black teeth. Instead, they have white or cream-colored teeth, and it becomes black after fossilization. A common myth surrounding sharks is that their teeth turn black over time. However, that’s not the case. Shark teeth turn black once they get detached from the shark’s jaw and buried.

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Finding shark teeth on beaches is a popular activity that many people undertake. Shark teeth are also quite valuable, monetarily. 

Is black shark tooth expensive?

The concept of shark teeth having any value may seem strange, but it is true. Let’s figure out how expensive shark teeth are. 

Shark teeth are pretty expensive, with a small tooth being sold for up to 50 to 250 dollars. High-quality teeth (which are 4 or 5 inches in length) can be sold for 400 dollars. The larger, high-quality specimen of shark tooth can be sold for up to 3,000 dollars. They are used for selling or private collections.

Shark teeth are high in demand by collectors. The price can vary according to the deterioration and size.

Are black shark teeth rare?

You might already know shark teeth become black over time due to fossilization. However, let’s find out how rare it is to find black shark teeth. 

Black shark teeth are not rare because the teeth are dense and quickly sink to the bottom. Here, the organic matter of the teeth gets replaced by the minerals present in the sediment. Sharks have plenty of teeth, so even though not all shark teeth get buried or fossilized, finding black shark teeth isn’t difficult.

Needless to say, shark teeth do not easily make their way to the beach. However, you can still find them in several locations, especially on the beaches of Florida.  

Why are shark teeth of different colors?

An interesting aspect about shark teeth is that they do not always turn black. Let’s learn why shark teeth acquire different colors.

Shark teeth acquire the color of the sediment in which they get buried, which is why you can find fossilized shark teeth in colors ranging from black, gray, red, tan, and so on. The teeth, once buried, start absorbing the minerals present in the sediment, and over time, they acquire the color of these minerals.

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Since the tooth lies buried for a long time, cracks or plant roots in and around the sediment may alter the tooth’s initial coloring. So, what you might find is a beautiful, multi-colored shark tooth. 

What does shark teeth color signify?

The color of shark teeth may seem insignificant but tells us more about the sediment in which it was buried. Let’s learn more about this. 

Shark tooth color depends on the chemical composition of the sediment. Sediment which is rich in iron may produce red, brown, or orange fossils. Alternatively, if the fossil is bleached or leached, it returns to its original white color. Phosphate-rich sediment produces black fossils. 

The varying chemical reactions and exposure to freshwater produce fossils of various colors. Sometimes, a single fossil can also be of different colors. 

How to identify a shark by its teeth?

Identifying a shark by its teeth is a complicated procedure. Allow us to tell you more about it. 

Shark teeth can be identified by looking at their broad, triangular shape, serrated edges, small size, glossy appearance, and dark color. Although most shark teeth are smaller, they can also be slightly bigger in length (up to 5 inches). Moreover, you can also find shark teeth that are gray, tan, or brown. 

Different shark breeds have different teeth lengths. Therefore, identifying them is a lot more difficult than you may think. Further, it is easy to confuse them with other fossils found along river beds. 


Shark teeth can be found nearly anywhere on Earth. Black shark teeth are most often found in sedimentary rock, which is present near river beds, sandpits, and beaches. You may also find fossilized shark teeth near kaolin or phosphate pits. 

Shark teeth are quite sharp and coarse but have a glossy appearance. Their sharpness allows sharks to bite into their prey and chew them properly. 

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