A prehistoric tooth from one of the largest sharks ever known has gone missing from a secret location in a remote World Heritage area in Western Australia. Police are investigating the theft of the rare Megalodon tooth discovered in the Cape Range National Park.
The location of the rare tooth was thought to have been highly secret. The well-preserved fossil was stolen from the spot where it was discovered just as wildlife rangers were looking to protect it from theft with a bulletproof glass cover or a wire cage.
The disappearance of the Megalodon tooth, which could be worth thousands of dollars to collectors, is now being investigated by police in Western Australia. Investigators believe the fossil could have been taken by an amateur collector or by someone who wants to sell it on the black market.
It is just one of a small number of Megalodon specimens in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area of Western Australia.
Arvid Hogstrom from Parks and Wildlife in Western Australia says the tooth's whereabouts remain a mystery.
“The sharks have known to be extinct for 1.6 million years, so it
[is] at least that old. It has been floating around on the seafloor for quite some time and been pushed up in the ranges and sitting there undisturbed for however long, and someone has come along with a bit of a chisel and taken it away. We are not sure where it has gone,” said Hogstrom.
The ancient shark grew to more than 15 meters long and weighed around 20 tons.
Researchers believe the ancient beast of the sea preyed on turtles and whales, which it would kill with jaws so strong they could crush a car.
The reason for the sharks' extinction is unknown, but experts have speculated that Megalodon was unable to adapt as the temperature of the Earth's oceans fell.
Wildlife authorities in Western Australia have circulated a picture of the missing tooth on social media as they intensify their efforts to recover the fossil, which is a priceless link to the region’s ancient past.