Resurrecting the Shark
A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil
Pegasus Books, 2017
Rummaging around in the basement of a natural history museum in 1993, Alaskan artist and paleo-fish enthusiast Ray Troll stumbled on the most bizarre and puzzling fossil he had ever seen—a platter-sized spiral of tightly wound shark teeth. He became obsessed with the fossil and the mysterious beast it belonged to, Helicoprion.
In 2010, tattooed undergraduate student and Iraq War veteran Jesse Pruitt was similarly smitten with a Helicoprion fossil in a different museum basement. Pruitt tracked down Troll, and an unconventional band of collaborators grew around them, determined to solve the mystery of Helicoprion’s tooth whorl once and for all. Imagination, passion, scientific process, and state-of-the-art technology reanimated the remarkable creature, and fresh research shed new light on this apex predator of the Permian period.
I AM THE SHARK THAT CONQUERED THE WHORL!
Listen to a Scientific American Science Talk podcast with Susan and host Steve Mirsky exploring the weird world of Helicoprion in, "The Shark That Conquered the Whorl"
Helicoprion art courtesy of Ray Troll