Learn About The Mystery That Is The Whorl-Tooth Shark

AnimalWirePublished: July 13, 20166,586 views
Published: July 13, 2016

For decades, scientists have been trying to piece together the mystery of the whorl tooth shark. Also known as the helicoprion, the most distinctive and puzzling aspect of this creature is its single spiraling column of teeth.

Numerous fossils tell of the creatures and the dangerous weapon it used to possess. But no one could tell where exactly did it fit on the creature’s body and what was its function? Was it used for defense or assault?

One artist and helicoprion enthusiast Ray Troll has conjured up images of the creature’s possible design, bringing to life his and many other experts’ hypothesis. Early thought place the spiral column of teeth curling from the nose, or extending from the dorsal and tail fins. Today, the thought has shifted to the lower jaw, and to the back of it.

It is believed that the circular serrated blade made up the shark’s entire set of teeth and could rotate backward to pull soft-bodied prey further into its oral cavity.

Helicoprion was first described by Alexander Karpinsky in 1899 from a fossil found in Artinskian age limestones of the Ural Mountains. Karpinsky named the type species Helicoprion bessonowi; Oliver Perry Hay originally described the species. This species can be differentiated from others by a short and narrowly spaced tooth whorl, backward-directed tooth tips, obtusely-angled tooth bases, and a consistently narrow whorl shaft.

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