Displaying shark teeth in a way that researchers and scientist can access the teeth without having large amounts of jaws in a collection taking up space, has always been an issue with research institutes and museums. The amount of time spent removing each shark tooth and keeping tabs of where they came from on the jaw, is a laborious and time consuming exercise. There are times I have had to remove all the teeth from shark jaws which have been badly decomposed and all the teeth have fallen out. I cleaned and prepared a Great White shark jaw for a research institute in Australia last year, that was badly decomposed. All the teeth had to be removed and then glued back into place correctly on the jaw. It was a major task.
This method can work successfully with shark specimens with very large teeth, such as large Mako shark jaws and Great White shark jaws. Smaller shark jaws require a different approach, due to the larger amount of teeth in the jaw, and the size of them.
I decided to experiment with an extremely rare Freshwater shark (Glyphis gangeticus) which unfortunately had been damaged in the cleaning process before I received it. I soaked the jaw and teeth in my usual whitening solution after having cleaned it thoroughly, and left it in there for a longer than normal period, around 4 days, to ensure it was totally white and disinfected. I then removed most of the Meckel’s cartilage on the bottom jaw, and did the same for the top jaw, leaving about 3-4cm space between the teeth and the end of the cartilage. I then trimmed the ends of the jaw, and soaked them again in a slightly stronger whitening solution for another 2 days.
The jaws were then removed, and dried.
After being thoroughly dried, the pieces were sanded, trimmed and repaired as per my normal procedure. In this way, the teeth remain within the jaw in the anatomically correct position. I then had a perspex box made for them for display.