This year, it wasn’t Santa Claus who brought nine-year-old Molly Sampson the best Christmas gift — it was Molly herself.
On Christmas Day, Molly excitedly donned her brand-new insulated waders to “go sharkstooth hunting like professionals,” Molly’s mother Alicia Sampson wrote on Facebook.
Molly, accompanied by her father Bruce and older sister Natalie, left their home in Prince Frederick, Md. to hunt for treasures in a bay near Calvert Cliffs, as per Fox News.
By 10 a.m., Molly made a discovery most fossil hunters only dream of: a five-inch-long megalodon tooth.
The tooth was found in knee-deep waters, so thanks to her new waders, Molly was able to retrieve the rare find.
The family shared the news of Molly’s prehistoric fossil on Facebook, writing that they were “pretty sure Molly is feeling like this is the best Christmas ever.”
Bruce told Fox News that he was “shocked” by his daughter’s “once-in-a-lifetime find.”
For Molly, who has collected over 400 fossils in her lifetime, this wasn’t her first megalodon tooth, but it is her largest. Her previous discoveries — an impressive hoard — have only been one or two inches long.
Molly and her family took the fossil to the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Md., to see what more they could learn about the megalodon tooth. There, paleontology curator Stephen J. Godfrey said the tooth is likely 15 million years old.
Godfrey told Molly that the shark that her megalodon tooth belonged to was probably a “young teenager” between 13 and 15 metres long.
The since extinct megalodon shark is considered to be the largest shark that ever lived. The biggest specimen ever recorded measured 17.9 metres long. It is believed that climate change in the Miocene, the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period, caused the animal’s extinction.
On social media, Molly and her family continue to share their fossil finds. By sharing discoveries, they hope to “inspire kids of all ages to get outside and explore.”
Molly said she wants to grow up and become a paleontologist who collects and analyzes fossils. Obviously.
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