Buzzsaw Jaw Helicoprion Was a Freaky Ratfish
Russian geologist Alexander Petrovich Karpinsky coined the name Helicoprion in 1899. Even though the coiled fossils superficially resembled the shelled ammonites and nautilus paleontologists often found in the marine fossil record, Karpinsky realized that the petrifications were actually part of a shark-like fish. But there was no obvious indication of where such an unusual feeding apparatus might fit. Karpinsky’s best guess was that Helicoprion bore the toothy spiral on its nose, like a permanently-tensed party favor studded with a fearsomely pointed dentition.
Other paleontologists disagreed. While the American paleontologist Charles Rochester Eastman unabashedly praised the depth of scope of Karpinsky’s monograph – “not one in one hundred essays on paleontological subjects receives anything like the elaborate care