How I Scanned a Megalodon Tooth

From Ancient Seas to Modern Tech: About Digitalizing and Printing a Prehistoric Fossil

The Impossible Scan

Those who have already taken a look at my 3D scanner app for iOS may have noticed that among the example objects there is also an impressive tooth of a Megalodon. Since the launch, questions have been mounting about how I was able to scan it. This mystery is to be solved here.

Rare picture of me during a real-world app test, 2024

3D Scanning Like It’s Nothing

To promptly resolve the tension: It was not a real tooth, but merely a statue of a shark tooth. While I wanted to relax from the efforts of app development over a long weekend, I encountered this statue during a walk on a Dutch beach. Equipped with an early beta version of my 3D scanner app, I tried to scan it: Just a quick walk around it, wait a moment for the 3D model to be calculated… what will the result look like?

Shark tooth statue, scanned with 3D Scan Pro on an iPhone 15 Pro, 2024

Better Done Than Perfct

You can examine the result yourself in the app today. The 3D model itself is not perfect, but it’s an honest demonstration of what’s spontaneously possible with the app. For the scan, I only performed one scan pass—in general, I recommend at least two for best outcomes. It was outside, the lighting conditions were poor, my movement shaky, and the statue was quite large. Scanning it took me about two minutes.

“Let’s attempt to 3D print the scan!”

From Fossil, to Digital, to Physical Again

There’s a reason why a shark tooth statue (by the way, not from a Megalodon) was placed there: As soon as the tide recedes and exposes the seabed, one can usually find fossil shark teeth as small as fingernails on that beach. Only very rarely are there finds where the teeth are as big as the palm of a hand. That’s when an idea came to me: Let’s print the scan in a size of my choice!

A 3D-printed shark tooth, held between the thumb and index finger.
A 3D-printed scan, directly exported as an STL file from within the app

A Keepsake I Will Carry

A software developer friend of mine, Kilian, owns a 3D printer and promptly offered his help. I sent him the 3D model directly from the app as an STL file. No revision necessary. A few days later, I found a beautifully detailed copy of my shark tooth in the mailbox. A personal keepsake that I will carry with me as a keychain from now on.

Now Try It Out Yourself

It’s time for you to try it out yourself! Download 3D Scan Pro for free in the App Store. I’m looking forward to seeing your scans.