Sharks are not only apex predators cruising our oceans. These amazing creatures have been around for more than 400 million years and have lived alongside dinosaurs. They have been featured in endless numbers of books and movies. Ancient legends passed onto this day are centered around sharks. Humans have historically always been fascinated by sharks and especially one thing about them, their teeth.
Has man always been fascinated by shark teeth? Where does man's fascination with shark teeth come from? It's hard to answer, but it seems like it has always been there. Scientists have discovered a collection of fossilized shark teeth uncovered from an ancient city just out of Jerusalem. The teeth were found in a basement dating back to the time of King Salomon approximately 3000 years ago. Scientists found that the teeth originate from a long-extinct Late Cretaceous Shark and that the fossilized teeth were about 80 million years old. Other teeth were found from various species that date back to when dinosaurs were still walking around. It has been determined that the teeth couldn't have been found naturally at the site, suggesting that it could be one of the first found human collections of shark teeth, leading us to the first fact.
1. Shark teeth are super long-lasting
Sharks are different from other vertebrates as their skeleton is made from cartilage, not bone, so the only thing that will last from the shark to fossilize is their teeth. Sharks will continuously shred their teeth during their lifetime and grow new ones. Some sharks will shred around 35.000 teeth during their lifetime. It will take approximately 10.000 years for a shark tooth to become fossilized, meaning that shark tooth jewelry containing fossilized teeth is all safe for sharks on the contrary to many "new" shark tooth jewelry pieces. (Read about ethical shark tooth jewelry here)
2. Wearing a shark tooth at sea is believed to protect you
Shark tooth jewelry has long been worn by Island folks, sailors, and surfers in the belief that it will protect them at sea.
According to a Hawaiian legend a young Hawaiian warrior once battled a sea god, he won the battle and when he emerged from the sea he was wearing a shark tooth necklace that has become the symbol of strength and protection.
Surfers have adapted the Hawaiian legend and it is said that wearing shark tooth out in the waves will protect you from shark attacks. Also, sailors believe that wearing shark tooth jewelry will protect them from drowning and getting lost at sea.
3. Leiomano, Hawaiians used shark teeth for survival
Before shark teeth could be seen around the neck of celebrities strolling the streets of Malibu and has become a fashion statement shark teeth were used by ancient tribes of the Pacific Ocean for tools and weapons. The Leiomano is used by Polynesian cultures and is especially known to the native Hawaiians. The word Leiomano means a shark's lei, lei normally being a Polynesian garland of flowers that many Polynesian Islands welcome you with.
The Leiomano is similar to a club with shark teeth inserted on the edges and the tool was used as a weapon and a tool to prepare food, which meant it was a tool for basic survival at the Pacific Islands. Some of the Leiomano's were made especially for royalty, making shark teeth royalty-worthy.
4. Scientists suggest that shark's teeth might stem from taste buds.
Many scientists believe that the first tooth-like structures developed in ancient fish were developed on their skin and were similar to the "denticle" scales that still cover sharks today, even after 500 million years of evolution. It is thought that these denticles gradually migrated into the mouth to form oral teeth. However, new research suggests that modern teeth, at least in sharks, may have also evolved from taste buds. They found that both teeth and taste buds develop from the same stem cells in an embryonic shark's mouth.
5. Shark teeth are considered a symbol of masculinity
We do not completely agree as we believe that our shark tooth necklace is both empowering and feminine, but the shark is often seen as a strong apex predator which has led to shark teeth often being a symbol of strength, protection, and masculinity. They have even been worn by men to attract women... wonder if that worked? Or maybe it could work the other way around?...
6. Shark teeth today
Today, shark teeth jewelry has become fashionable and can be seen worn around the neck by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Miley Cyrus, and Mila Kunis or by trendy travelers at your holiday destination. They come in many shapes and forms and there are both gold-dipped options, fossilized shark tooth necklaces, and braided bracelets or necklaces with real shark teeth.
Wearing a shark tooth necklace can be a bold statement and many wear them to showcase an interest for sharks, but there is a dark side to this. Many shark tooth jewelry pieces are made from real shark teeth coming from sharks that are killed for their teeth. You have probably heard of the shark finning industry, but this applies to their teeth as well, sharks are too being killed for their teeth. We recommend researching thoroughly before purchasing any shark tooth jewelry pieces containing shark teeth. It is safe to purchase shark tooth jewelry from fossilized teeth as these teeth are thousands of years old and will not contribute to the killing of today's sharks. But don't get tempted on your holiday trip to purchase cute braided bracelets with shark teeth, they are most likely not found on the beach...
Today many shark species are threatened and shark populations have declined heavily around the world. As fascinated as we are about shark teeth, we need to protect our sharks and not hunt them for ornaments.
We at VANDAYA wanted to create a shark tooth necklace that would showcase the beauty of their teeth and have the look of a gold-dipped shark tooth piece, but wouldn't contain any real shark teeth and therefore would not contribute to the killing of sharks in any way. Our gold shark tooth necklace was made from a single naturally shred shark tooth found on a dive in Fiji in shark reef. We named the necklace after where the tooth was found it is therefore named Fiji Shark Necklace and is meant to honor sharks and the incredible shark sanctuary in Beqa lagoon, Fiji where the tooth was found. You can find our ethically made Fiji Shark Necklace here.