Chainsaw-Toothed Shark Fossil Uncovered

Chainsaw-Toothed Shark Fossil Uncovered

image

CT scans allowed researchers to reconstruct a puzzling fossil - with surprising results.

An unusually complete fossil of the ancient fish Helicoprion has allowed researchers to create a model which reveals new information about the puzzling jaw arrangement of the creature. Helicoprion had whorls of teeth, much like a spiral saw blade, that rolled up into the creature's jaw, slashing and tearing its food. "As the mouth closes, the teeth spin backwards... so they slash through the meat that they are biting into," Dr. Leif Tapanila, who worked on the study, told the BBC. "The teeth themselves are very narrow: nice long, pointy, triangular teeth with serrations like a steak knife. As the jaw is closing and the teeth are spinning past whatever it's eating, it's making a very nice clean cut." The working theory is that unlike sharks, Helicoprion never shed its teeth. The fossil the researchers used is unusual because it contains imprints of cartilage, which usually does not preserve well.

The researchers used a CT scan on the fossil to see that they had more than just the lower jaw, but a semi-complete jaw structure. Previously, researchers had thought that the spiral of teeth might be a defense mechanism located on the exterior of the jaw. "When we got the images back, we could easily see that we had the upper and lower jaw of the animals, as well as the spiral of teeth," said Dr. Tapanila. Using the images, the team built a computer model of the jaw and is working on a physical model. Given the way the jaw moved, with a rolling motion, Dr. Tapanila thinks that the fish likely ate soft things, like the ancestors of modern squid. "If this animal were eating other animals that were very hard or [had] hard armor plating or dense shells, you would expect more damage to their teeth."

Given the fish's characteristics, it's likely not a true shark at all, but more closely related to modern chimaeras and ratfish. It was probably 4 to 7 meters (13-22 feet) long.

Source: BBC
Image: Ray Troll

Permalink

Another conquest for science:

image

Hundrets of pictures based on diverging assumptions gone to waste...


Although I personally liked the first one, makes it kinda look like a cartoon character that has just seen a sexy shark lady walking past.

Captcha: science class

Seriously, nothing nature does really shocks me anymore. I consider that to be the most awesome of realisations.

"Fish with a buzz saw for teeth that looks like something from a 90's platformer found"

Dude have you read about ant societies and species?! suicide bombers, slave taking ants. Or the 37 foot long death eels that used to swim in the ocean?! Ain't minding freaking giraffes. naturalist' please.

I guess Cliffy B was at some point a god or something

So at some point there must have been shark zombies.

Just when you thought Sharks couldn't get much cuddlier, huh? Still, regardless of how terrified I'd be if I saw one alive, it's a pretty impressive critter.

YEAH!!! You go prehistoric earth......... One up that Dr. Evil

image

Or

image

Jason of the sea FTW? so... God had his share of GoW early, and he sure had fun with that one...

Helicoprion

Good name, but should really be written as...

H E L I C O P R I O N

...for that Jaws-meets-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre horror movie feel.

This might be a very stupid question, but how did they conclude that those teeth belong to a shark, if all they have ever found was said teeth? And such strange teeth at that.

This just baffles me.

Jack Rascal:
This might be a very stupid question, but how did they conclude that those teeth belong to a shark, if all they have ever found was said teeth? And such strange teeth at that.

This just baffles me.

They have more they just emphasized the upper and lower jaw because those were never found intact previously. Though it is just a few skull fragments. Though based on the teeth you can distinguish allot of animals. Just requires an expert eye.

They could also be wrong and this is just a seashell that evolved serrated edges to ward of predators, but science will tell with time.

Also DAMN NATURE YOU SCARY!

So you could say, he used those teeth to be a buzz kill?

image

1337mokro:

Jack Rascal:
This might be a very stupid question, but how did they conclude that those teeth belong to a shark, if all they have ever found was said teeth? And such strange teeth at that.

This just baffles me.

They have more they just emphasized the upper and lower jaw because those were never found intact previously. Though it is just a few skull fragments. Though based on the teeth you can distinguish allot of animals. Just requires an expert eye.

They could also be wrong and this is just a seashell that evolved serrated edges to ward of predators, but science will tell with time.

Also DAMN NATURE YOU SCARY!

Hmmm... I remain sceptical :D

Not saying that it wouldn't be magnificent if that animal had existed but a seashell with serrated edges would be pretty cool looking too!

Maybe they found a fossil of a shark eating a seashell? Choked to death while trying to eat the seriously equipped prey...

who got their 'gears of war' in my 'finding nemo?'
but honestly, nothing beats nature. i'll bet at some point, someone, somewhere will find the bones of whatever the vikings thought were dragons and say, "look dragons were real."

Hey, anyone else remember the beached whale from Zeno Clash?
image

Pretty sure they must have seen this interpretation of the Helicoprion

ssgt splatter:
who got their 'gears of war' in my 'finding nemo?'
but honestly, nothing beats nature. i'll bet at some point, someone, somewhere will find the bones of whatever the vikings thought were dragons and say, "look dragons were real."

So the stories of Viking warriors slaying dragons would then be true? You sir have given me hope in my heart.

Jack Rascal:
This might be a very stupid question, but how did they conclude that those teeth belong to a shark, if all they have ever found was said teeth? And such strange teeth at that.

This just baffles me.

From what I understand, it's not at all unusual for paleontologists to identify creatures by the teeth, though it's more common with mammals (I have a friend who often complains that mammalian paleontology is "all skulls and teeth"). If shark teeth have unique characteristics then it may be entirely possible to identify a creature as a shark from just teeth. I don't know if that's what happened here (there may have been other bones involved) but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

It wasn't a shark, though.

From the article:

The study also highlighted the family connections of the ancient fish, categorising it with chimaeras and ratfish rather than sharks.

"One of the main ways that fish are identified is based on how the upper jaw connects to the rest of the skull," said Dr Tapanila.

"Because we have the upper jaw we can look at the bumps and grooves on it and see how it would have connected.

"It was fixed in two positions and was fused essentially to the brain tip... a feature that's distinctive for chimaeras and ratfish."

Jack Rascal:
This might be a very stupid question, but how did they conclude that those teeth belong to a shark, if all they have ever found was said teeth? And such strange teeth at that.

This just baffles me.

They had the whole upper and lower jaw.

Besides, it's not unusual that a whole species is only known by the teeth (especially with sharks, as the teeth are often the only things that are fossilized), and you can tell a lot about the animal with just the teeth, and based on what you know about their relatives.

ssgt splatter:
who got their 'gears of war' in my 'finding nemo?'
but honestly, nothing beats nature. i'll bet at some point, someone, somewhere will find the bones of whatever the vikings thought were dragons and say, "look dragons were real."

Well, dinosaurs existed, and while they predated vikings, people have been finding their remains for a long time. It's no wonder they'd think they were dragons. Or giants. I know for sure mammoth/elephant skull were thought to belong to cyclopses.

Of course, you wouldn't find dinosaur-remains like that in Scandinavia, but vikings travelled.

Mouse One:
Hey, anyone else remember the beached whale from Zeno Clash?
image

Pretty sure they must have seen this interpretation of the Helicoprion

first thing it came to mind to me :D

Lonewolfm16:

ssgt splatter:
who got their 'gears of war' in my 'finding nemo?'
but honestly, nothing beats nature. i'll bet at some point, someone, somewhere will find the bones of whatever the vikings thought were dragons and say, "look dragons were real."

So the stories of Viking warriors slaying dragons would then be true? You sir have given me hope in my heart.

you are oh so welcome my good sir.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here