Sir David Attenborough presents Prince George with a shark tooth fossil Photograph:( AFP )
The tooth once belonged to a megalodon, an extinct species of giant shark that could grow up to 16 metres
Malta has called for the return of a prehistoric shark tooth that was given as a present to Britain's Prince George by naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
The country was a British colony until 1964. The fossil was discovered by the veteran broadcaster during a family holiday in the extinct Carcharocles megalodon in the 1960s.
Malta's culture minister Hose Herrera said ''the fossil should be put on display in the island where it was discovered''.
Kensington Palace announced the gift on Saturday, saying the giant tooth was given to the seven-year-old prince when Attenborough attended a private viewing of his latest environmental documentary with members of the royal family.
Attenborough found the fossil during a family holiday to Malta in the late 1960s, the palace said. It was embedded in soft yellow limestone, and is believed to be about 23 million years old.
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.
"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.
The tooth once belonged to a megalodon, an extinct species of giant shark that could grow up to 52 feet (16 metres).
"We rightly give a lot of attention to historical and artistic artefacts. However, it is not always the case with our natural history. I am determined to direct a change in this attitude," the minister said.