Huge prehistoric megashark tooth stolen in Australia

A giant fossilized tooth from a massive prehistoric shark has been stolen from a national park in Australia.

The 3-inch tooth was taken from an undisclosed location on the remote Ningaloo Coast in Western Australia, the BBC reports.

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“We are investigating the theft of a 1.6 million year old megalodon (ancient shark) tooth on the Ningaloo Coast,” tweeted the Parks and Wildlife Service of Western Australia's Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Monday.

The tooth was stolen from Cape Range National Park, which is about 690 miles north of Perth.

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A giant predator, the now-extinct megalodon reached about 60 feet in length. The BBC reports that the megalodon tooth was one of two on the Ningaloo Coast, a vast and strikingly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site.

The megalodon, which is believed by some to be an ancestor of the great white shark, lived from 16 million to 2 million years ago, according to LiveScience.

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Only a handful of people knew the location of the tooth, which was attached to rock, according to the BBC report. Arvid Hogstrom, a spokesman for Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation told the BBC that staff hid the tooth with “natural features.” The rare artifact, which was in a “semi-secret” location, was likely removed with a hammer and chisel.

A member of the public reported the missing tooth to park rangers on Friday, March 9, according to a Facebook post by the Parks and Wildlife Service.

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Last year, vandals wrecked a dinosaur footprint in rock at a renowned paleontology site in Australia.

Although rare, megalodon teeth have been discovered in other parts of the world. A huge megashark tooth, for example, was unearthed in 2016 on North Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. In 2013, a Texas couple on vacation in Florida found two matching halves of a megalodon’s tooth.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. 

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers