By Alo K. T1

Helicoprion - died 250,000,000 years ago

Helicoprion was one of the strangest creatures ever to live. The “Whorl Shark” had a set of teeth, shaped like a circular saw blade on it’s lower jaw. It lived between 310 to 250 million years ago. Because of where the fossils are located, it is speculated that the Helicoprion swam off the south of Pangaea. The cause of its extinction is unknown.

When the first set of teeth were uncovered there was a large debate over where the spiral-shaped tooth structure was located and what it was used for. Some reconstructions placed it curving out of the upper jaw. Others stuck it on the lower one. Yet others speculated that it might have served a lure for ammonites. Some scientists even put the tooth whorl on its fins or tails. Most scientists now agree the teeth were located in its lower jaw, embedded in its mouth.

Unfortunately, because its skeleton was made out of cartilage, very little of anything else survived, so it is very difficult to find out much about this curious animal, but scientists have been able to find a little bit more about Helicoprion. It was not a shark, it was technically a type of ratfish. It has also been determined that Helicoprion most likely ate soft food, like squid. This is partly because of how few teeth there are. A normal shark could have 3000 teeth at a time. Clearly Helicoprion does not have that many teeth at a time, so it can't bite anything hard. However, its teeth do eventually get covered by new teeth, so they don't have to last the entire Helicoprion's life.


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