A mum who was scattering her parents’ ashes at the beach discovered a rare fossil which could be up to 30 million years old.
Rebecca Killick found the shark’s tooth at Barton’s Point Coastal Park on Sheppey.
The 40-year-old, from Queenborough, said: “We’d gone to release my mum, stepdad and dog’s ashes.
“My stepdad passed away from Covid in 2020. My mum kept his ashes with her and then our dog passed away in 2022, she also kept those.
“But then, on June 11 of this year, my mum also died – she was only 59. Mum made it clear she wanted her husband’s and dog’s ashes with hers, together, let go on the beach so they could be in peace.”
It was after Rebecca had done this – alongside her two daughters, Hannah, 14, and Keira, nine – that she discovered the shark’s tooth, which is estimated to be between one million and 30 million years old.
Rebecca said: “After we’d let their ashes go to the sea, my family and I went to sit on the stones.
“After laying a blanket I put my hand on the stones and began to play with them. That’s when the fossil caught my eye, it was amazing.
“I’d never found a fossil before now.”
Minster fossil hunter and expert, Daniel Hogburn, has been able to ID the tooth from pictures sent to him.
He said: “It looks like a mako shark (Isurus) tooth which is a specimen we don’t find on the Island naturally.
“It is a rare find for Sheppey. I can only assume it was deposited as part of the beach’s recharge.”
A beach recharge, also known as beach nourishment, is when sediment, like sand and stones, is taken from one beach and placed on another which is facing coastal erosion. This is done to restore shorelines.
Daniel added: “Sometimes these fossils can turn up in the recharge material when the beaches are replenished with pebble.
“It seems palaeontologists have recently reassigned the Isurus shark to Cosmopolitodus Hastalis, a broad-toothed mako.
“Although it's not a true mako it is now thought to be a direct ancestor to the modern-day Great White shark.
“Cosmopolitodus Hastalis lived between one million and 30 million years ago and is also related to the modern-day narrow-tooth Mako Cosmopolitodus Planus.”
Daniel explained he was able to tell the shark tooth belonged to the mako species because it is quite thin.
He said: “Fossil hunters in the area may accidentally ID it as an Otodus tooth simply because of the geography of where it was found. Otodus teeth are very common along the Warden coastline.”