Shark teeth that have been fossilized are frequently dark, although one would reasonably speculate if any sharks actually have dark teeth. The color can also be attributed to the environment in which the teeth were found, such as dark, muddy areas or areas with high concentrations of iron.
What Elements Cause A Shark’s Fossilized Teeth To Be Black?
When acidic sediments come in contact with a shark tooth, the enamel of the tooth is decalcified, or eroded away. This process exposes the collagen-rich dentine and cementine underneath the enamel, which is made up of phosphate.
This phosphate can have a variety of colors, depending on the type of phosphate present. Although the most common color is jet black, other colors, such as shades of gray, brown, white, yellow, and red can also be seen.
As the acidic sediments continue to erode the enamel, more of the phosphate is exposed. This process is what creates the unique patterns and colors of shark teeth fossils.
How Long Do Shark Teeth Fossilize Before turning black?
Shark teeth fossilize over thousands of years, and the color of the teeth can vary. The fossilization process takes much longer for teeth that are buried deeper in the sediment. When shark teeth first fossilize, they are usually white or tan in color.
As the teeth are exposed to the elements, they gradually turn black. This process can take thousands of years, depending on the environment in which the teeth are buried.
In conclusion, shark teeth that have been fossilized can be found in a variety of colors, from light to dark. The color of the teeth is largely dependent on the environment in which they were found, and the presence of iron or other minerals can darken the teeth. It is likely that no sharks actually have dark teeth, but the environment can certainly affect the color of fossilized shark teeth.