Pennsylvania boy discovers extinct shark tooth during South Carolina vacation

An 8-year-old boy from Pennsylvania made a rare discovery while vacationing in South Carolina -- a huge fossilized tooth of an extinct shark that existed more than 22 million years ago.

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Riley Gracely, of Lebanon County, was vacationing with his family at Palmetto Fossil Excursions in Summerville, a yearly stop on the way to Myrtle Beach, The State reported.

The Gracely family has made some nice discoveries, but Riley was still looking for a big score when the family visited the facility on Aug. 11.

“When this year came along, he’s thinking, ‘OK, it’s my turn. I’ve got to get something this time,’” Riley’s father, Justin Gracely, told WGAL-TV.

The boy said he saw something that looked like a tooth, so he began digging in the soil, gravel and clay and pulled out a whopper of a tooth.

It was from the angustiden shark species, which lived between 22 million and 28 million years ago, The State reported.

“He got lucky,” Justin Gracely told the newspaper.

Sky Basak, co-owner of Palmetto Fossil Excursions, called the discovery a “once-in-a-lifetime find.” The tooth measured 4.75 inches, which is about the size of Riley’s hand, according to The State.

Justin Gracely, 40, told the newspaper he has been visiting Myrtle Beach since he was 5. He and his mother, a microbiologist, would scour South Carolina’s sandy beaches for shark teeth.

The Gracely family has visited the Summerville facility for three straight years. Justin Gracely said his 10-year-old son, Colin, found a 4-inch megalodon tooth last year, The State reported.

Basak and her husband opened the business in 2020 as a “cool part-time gig,” she told the newspaper. Basak said interest was immediate.

“It’s a cool feeling knowing you’ve got something that old,” Basak told The State.

After finding such a large tooth, Riley said he was looking for more.

“I want to go back to find more big teeth so I can add them to my collection,” the boy told WGAL.