Sunday, June 24, 2007

Preschool for the visually impaired is given sizeable donation

Catherine Sliva made it look easy on her first fossil hunt.

The Catonsville Middle School seventh-grader found a fossilized shark's tooth on a school field trip to Calvert Cliffs State Park that dwarves the teeth that frightened moviegoers watching "Jaws."
The 13-year-old found the triangular tooth, about two inches tall and nearly as wide at its broadest point, along the shore in Calvert County.

The beach at Calvert Cliffs is known as a fertile area for finding fossils. Park guests can keep fossils they find, according to a state Department of Natural Resources Web site.

Catherine's find is most likely from a megalodon, according to Tim Lovell, a science teacher at Catonsville Middle who was on the field trip with her and more than 100 other seventh- graders.
In his second year at Catonsville, Lovell said he has never seen anything like the tooth.

A megalodon was a massive shark of between 5 million and 1.5 million years ago, according to the National Museum of Natural History.

An adult could be up to 40 feet long, compared to a modern great white shark which can reach lengths of around 15 feet.

Catherine said she has been interested in sharks since she saw "Jaws" several years ago, so she knew what she had found as soon as she saw it.

She said her father bought her a kit when she first showed an interest in predatory fish. The kit shows different sizes and types of shark's teeth, including megalodons.

"This is probably from a baby or from all the way in the back (of the mouth)," she said.

Lovell, who was in charge on the trip, said the seventh grade had completed a unit on rocks and fossils, so the May 3 trip fit perfectly with the curriculum.

He said the seventh grade was divided into two groups because there isn't room on the beach for the approximately 230 students all at once.

A portion of dolphin's jaw was the only other find of note by the students.

Lovell said the trip was planned for a day when they would arrive at low tide after the 1 1/2 hour bus ride so that more beach area could be searched for fossils.

Finding fossils in that section of beach, which is about 100 yards long, is not uncommon, due to the eroding of the cliffs that tower over the sand.

Fossils from more than 600 species have been found from Calvert Cliffs, according to the DNR Web site.


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