Artwork by Ray Troll 2013.
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A new look for the ratfish relative Helicoprion. Artwork © Ray Troll 2013.
Artwork by Ray Troll 2013.

Prehistoric Buzzsaw Ratfish on Film

Helicoprion was a really weird fish. So weird, in fact, that it took over a century for paleontologists to figure out how the fish’s tooth-studded whorl fit on the creature’s body. The nature of what Helicoprion jaws actually looked like was only published a little more than a week ago, brought to life in wonderful restorations by artist and fish fanatic Ray Troll.

I don’t think anyone was more ecstatic about having researchers finally figure out the arrangement of the Helicoprion dental equipment than Troll. He’s been chasing the trail of the Permian fossil for years. And now there’s going to be a film about the fulfillment of Troll’s dream. The documentary is called Buzzsaw Sharks of Idaho, and, to celebrate the scientific debut of the new Helicoprion, filmmaker Marc Osborne Jr has released of a seven minute teaser for the movie.

Musicians are jumping in to celebrate the ratfish’s new look, too. Country band 3 Trails West released two odes to Helicroprion – “The Whorl Tooth Sharks of Idaho” and “Minor Whorl”, which you can find on iTunes – and Troll says his own wonderfully geeky band Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers are going to release their own tribute to the odd, 270 million year old fish. I can’t wait.