Florida Museum of Natural History

Shark Tooth Identification Guide

Fossil Sharks In The News

** PLEASE NOTE, THIS KEY IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS - PHOTOS TO COME SOON! **


Key to the Common Genera of Neogene Shark Teeth

(Glossary of fossil shark tooth-related terms)



1. a) teeth labio-lingually flattened..........2

b) teeth short, not labio-lingually flattened..........48


2. a) teeth single cusped (includes teeth with lateral denticle)..........3

b) teeth multicusped..........26


3. a) cutting edges of teeth notched (angular) on one or both edges..........4

b) cutting edges of teeth not notched..........9


4. a) cutting edges of teeth partially or completely serrated..........5

b) cutting edges of teeth smooth..........12


5. a) one cutting edge of tooth with angular notch..........6

b) both cutting edges of tooth with angular notches..........29


6. a) angular notch deep..........7

b) angular notch shallow..........35


7. a) shoulder with fine to coarse serrations..........8

b) shoulder with weak to very fine serrations..........Sphyrna (in part), Carcharhinus (in part), Rhizoprionodon (in part)


8. a) basal margin of root strongly arcuate, transverse groove not well developed or absent..........Galeocerdo (in part)

b) basal margin of root straight to subangular with well developed transverse groove..........15


9. a) cutting edges of teeth are serrated..........10

b) cutting edges of teeth are smooth..........16


10. a) root does not protrude lingually at midline of tooth; labial face of root without valley..........11

b) root protrudes lingually (may be slight) at midline of tooth; labial face of root with valley..........45


11. a) teeth greater than 1" (2.54 cm.) in height; coarse serrations, thick root..........Carcharodon

b) teeth 1" or less in height; basal margin of enamel of lingual face is root not massive..........Carcharhinus longimanus (upper teeth)


12. a) one cutting edge of tooth with angular notch..........13

b) both cutting edges of tooth with angular notches..........20


13. a) crown contorted..........Galeocerdo (in part)

b) crown not contorted..........14


14. a) enamel shoulder with faint to coarse serrations..........Galeorhinus, Paragaleus (in part), Rhizoprionodon (in part), Carcharhinus (in part)

b) enamel shoulder smooth..........21


15. a) teeth much higher than wide..........Prionace (in part)

b) teeth nearly equilateral..........39


16. a) teeth have lateral cusplets..........17

b) teeth do not have lateral cusplets..........22


17. a) number of lateral cusplets on each side of crown equal..........18

b) number of lateral cusplets on each side of crown unequal..........24


18. a) lateral cusplets adjacent to basal edge of crown; cutting edge of crown complete..........19

b) lateral cusplets well above basal margin of crown; cutting edge of crown incomplete..........Hemipristis serra (in part, lower anterior)


19. a) transverse groove absent; cutting edges usually straight and never parallel toward apex..........Lamna

b) transverse groove present; cutting edges usually concave and in more anterior teeth nearly parallel toward apex..........33


20. a) root protrudes on lingual side; central foramen in shallow groove...........Negaprion brevirostris (in part)

b) root does not protrude on lingual side; central foramen in deep transverse groove..........Carcharhinus (in part)


21. a) cutting edge extends to base of crown..........Rhizoprionodon (in part), Sphyrna (in part)

b) cutting edge does not extend to base of crown..........Prionace (lower teeth)


22. a) transverse groove present..........23

b) transverse groove absent or incipient..........28


23. a) asymmetrical teeth; transverse groove does not extend to basal margin of root..........Alopias (in part)

b) nearly symmetrical teeth; transverse groove extends to basal margin of root to form a notch..........Carcharhinus (lower teeth)


24. a) main portion of crown recumbent..........Echinorhinus

b) main portion of crown not recumbent..........25


25. a) root not lobate..........47

b) root lobate..........46


26. a) mesial edge of main cusp serrated, cusplets decline regularly in size distally..........27

b) mesial edge of main cusp with one or more denticles, cusplet distal to main cusp shorter than more distal cusplets..........Heptranchias


27. a) 3 to 4 cusplets, serrations recurved..........Notorynchus (in part)

b) 7 to 10 cusplets, serrations not recurved..........Hexanchus (in part)


28. a) central foramen present; lingual face of root smooth..........32

b) central foramen absent; lingual face of root striated..........Hexanchus (upper anterior teeth)

29. a) cutting edges of crown smooth; enamel shoulders weakly to finely serrated..........30

b) cutting edges of crown partially or completely serrated..........31


30. a) transverse groove shallow or absent..........Negaprion brevirostris (in part)

b) transverse groove deep..........Carcharhinus (in part)


31. a) lingual face of root convex..........Carcharhinus (in part)

b) lingual face of root flattened..........Sphyrna (in part)


32. a) root lobes round and extend beyond basal limit of crown..........Alopias (in part)

b) root lobes not round (in teeth under 1.5" in height) and don't extend noticeably beyond basal limit of crown..........Isurus


33. a) lateral cusplets prominent, not strongly curved..........34

b) lateral cusplets not prominent, strongly curved..........Carcharias taurus


34. a) two or more pairs of lateral cusplets, root lobes deeply arched and narrow..........Odontaspis ferox

b) one pair of long lateral cusplets, root lobes moderately arched and broad..........Odontaspis noronhai


35. a) relatively narrow cusps..........36

b) broad cusps..........37


36. a) mesial cutting edge concave with slightly coarser serrations on both shoulders..........Carcharhinus limbatus

b) mesial and distal cutting edges of cusps essentially straight..........46


37. a) cusps with slightly coarser serrations distally..........38

b) cusps with uniform serrations..........Carcharhinus altimus


38. a) mesial cutting edge marked by noticeable gap in serrations..........Carcharhinus falciformis (upper anteriors)

b) mesial cutting edge not marked by noticeable gap in serrations..........Carcharhinus falciformis (upper laterals)


39. a) cusps narrow..........40

b) cusps moderately broad..........Carcharhinus brachyurus


40. a) cusps uniformly serrated with fine serrations..........Sphyrna (in part) & Carcharhinus (in part)

b) cusps not uniformly serrated..........41


41. a) saw-toothed serrations on distal enamel shoulder..........42

b) fine serrations on distal enamel shoulder..........Carcharhinus acronotus


42. a) mesial serrations fine..........44

b) mesial serrations coarse basally..........42


43. a) contact between root and labial side of crown V-shaped..........Carcharhinus leucas

b) contact between root and labial side of crown flat and wide..........Carcharhinus obscurus


44. a) mesial cutting edge essentially straight..........Carcharhinus porosus

b) mesial cutting edge noticeably concave basally..........Carcharhinus perezi


45. a) transverse groove present in lingual root protrusion..........Hemipristis serra (in part)

b) transverse groove absent in lingual root protrusion; teeth greater than 1" (2.54 cm); basal margin of enamel of lingual face is gently arched to straight in small teeth and becoming strongly arched in larger specimens..........Carcharocles


46. a) basal margin of root broadly arched..........Alopias (in part)

b) basal margin of root not broadly arched..........Hemipristis serra (in part)


47. a) mesial cutting edge forms shoulder with one or more cusplets..........Notorynchus (in part)

b) mesial cutting edge without shoulder and cusplets..........Hexanchus (in part)


48. a) single long sharp cusp..........Squatina

b) small center cusp with 3-4 cusplets on either side..........Ginglymostoma

























Fossil Sharks