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Malta demands the return of fossilised shark tooth that David Attenborough gave to Prince George

Malta has demanded the return of a fossilised giant shark's tooth that Sir David Attenborough gave to Prince George as a gift to mark their first meeting at Kensington Palace.

The young prince, seven, was photographed looking intrigued as he handled the fossilised tooth from an extinct Carcharocles megalodon - one of the most feared predators to have swum in the seas.

Sir David said he found the tooth - understood to be around 23 million years old - embedded in soft limestone while on holiday in Malta in the late 1960s.

The country was a British colony until 1964 and the Queen was it's head of state until 1974.

However, Maltese Culture Minister Jose Herrera said the tooth should be in a local museum and promised to 'set the ball rolling' to get it back. 

Malta has demanded the return of a fossilised giant shark's tooth that Sir David Attenborough gave to Prince George (pictured with the tooth) as a gift to mark their first meeting at Kensington Palace 

Sir David presented his gift after he attended a private viewing - held in the palace's grounds - of A Life On Our Planet, his new environmental documentary. Socially distanced in the open air, the Duke of Cambridge and Sir David were offered directors' chairs with their names printed on the back - but in a change of plan they sat in each other's seats (pictured)

The tooth (an example of a tooth, pictured) once belonged to a megalodon, an extinct species of giant shark that could grow up to 52 feet

WHAT WAS THE CARCHAROCLES MEGALODON AND WHY DID IT BECOME EXTINCT?

Jaws may have terrified you at the cinema, but the iconic great white would have been dwarfed by Carcharocles megalodon, the largest shark in the history of the planet.

The giant creatures lived between 23million and 2.6million years ago and scientists are divided over how and why the species perished.

The predator grew up to an incredible 59 feet (18 metres) long, and it used its giant teeth, that could grow up to 7.1 inches (18cm) to feed on smaller marine mammals.

In the past, climate changes have generally been blamed for its disappearance, while some research also suggested the giant shark became extinct because the diversity of its prey decreased and new predators appeared as competitors. 

The ancient shark has been described as a super predator, because it could swim at high speeds and kill a wide variety of prey such as sea turtles and whales, quickly in its strong jaws.

'There are some artefacts that are important to Maltese natural heritage and which ended up abroad and deserve to be retrieved,' Herrera told the Times of Malta, without giving details of how he intended to recover the fossil.

Sir David presented his gift after he attended a private viewing - held in the palace's grounds - of A Life On Our Planet, his new environmental documentary. 

It is a revealing and powerful first-hand account in which Sir David reflects on both the defining moments of his life as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has witnessed.

Socially distanced in the open air, the Duke of Cambridge and Sir David were offered directors' chairs with their names printed on the back - but in a change of plan they sat in each other's seats. 

Sir David chatted to William, Kate and their three children George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis after the screening.

William interviewed Sir David at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year, and during the discussion the broadcaster warned that humanity needed to act so that they did not 'annihilate part of the natural world'.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also previously met the conservationist in September 2019 at Birkenhead, for the naming ceremony of the polar research ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough, with the encounter appearing in the upcoming ITV documentary, Prince William: A Planet For Us All.

Two images were released by the palace to mark the occasion, with the first showing Sir David as he met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 38, and their children.

Dressed in a dapper suit, the 94-year-old naturalist, who hit headlines recently after joining Instagram, is seen standing a safe distance from the family who are gathered around a bench in their gardens - with Kate looking resplendent in a cotton denim shirt dress, thought to be by Gabriela Hearst, costing £1295.

Kate, who once again matched her children to her fashion choice, with the whole family wearing various shades of blue, recently revealed that her youngsters were 'massive fans' of Sir David, and were disappointed they didn’t get to meet the national treasure during their parents' catch up with him for ITV documentary, Prince William: A Planet For Us All. 

Sir David Attenborough has given Prince George a fossilised giant shark's tooth to mark their first meeting at Kensington Palace, after discovering the young royal was a 'massive fan'

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also previously met the conservationist in September 2019 at Birkenhead (above), for the naming ceremony of the polar research ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough, with the encounter appearing in the upcoming ITV documentary, Prince William: A Planet For Us All

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