A recent discovery of a shark tooth at an archaeological site near Cambridge has indicated that sharks may have once roamed the prehistoric seas of Cambridgeshire; predominantly in the area where the fens now lie.

The tooth that was discovered is thought to have belonged to a member of the Orthadocus family, an extinct type of shark. A precursor to the modern-day shark, the Orthadocus is reckoned to have been smaller than sharks are today, and lived in the Cretaceous period approximately 100 million years ago.

It was here in Cambridgeshire at Barrington Quarry that the interesting find was made. Amateur geologist John Drayton, 61, from Impington, discovered the tooth; the first of its kind to be excavated in Europe.

It is thought that the discovery of the shark tooth will help to clarify understandings about where and when the shark lived. Though other finds had proved that sharks had lived in the oceans of what is now East Anglia in the Jurassic era, they had not proved their presence in the area in the Cretaceous period.

The Orthadocus is not the only creature to have traversed the waters of Cambridge millions of years ago. The tooth was actually unearthed just metres from the remnants of an Ichthyosaur, a giant marine reptile, which resembled a cross between a fish and a dolphin.

Dr Preston Miracle, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge said, “clearly we need to be doing all we can to protect and preserve the UK's cultural and natural heritage - and that is true for discoveries of things that are millions of years old as well as others that may be only a few centuries old.”

The shark tooth has now been entrusted to David Ward, a retired veterinary surgeon with an interest in fossil sharks. He will study the tooth with Dr Charlie Underwood of the University of London. After this the tooth will be housed at the Natural History Museum in London, following its donation to the museum by the owner’s of the quarry, Cemex.