Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Friday, February 18, 2005

"Sharkabet!" raves. A helicoprion digression.

This alphabet book by Ray Troll is amazing -- great for kids, but also amusing and informative for grown-ups. Chris and Martin Kratt like it, too, so it has to be good:


The pictures are lovely. See the winsome cookie-cutter sharks? This is the book that sparked Beanie's interest in them.

These days, when we play cookie-cutter sharks with our index fingers, we give the sharks pretend cookie dough and they cut out different shapes, like hearts and stars. Our pretend CC sharks don't bite other fish anymore; they bake cookies. What kind? "Sugar cookies," says Bean, "of course."

My favorite shark from Troll's book is the helicoprion, an extinct shark known only from enigmatic fossil teeth. I like that scientists didn't know where to put the whorl of teeth at first (how do they know for sure now?):

As Ray Troll writes, "One poor Russian, A. P. Karpinski, spent years in futile attempts to restore the position of the whorl. He placed it in the tail, on the dorsal, and in the upper jaw (my favorite, a sinister swimming Dumbo!)."

Here's another conceptualization of helicoprion, but it doesn't hold a candle to Troll's:

And another look at the beast, although this one is a little baffling to me -- I thought helicoprion had only one spiral of teeth in the lower jaw. But why not two?:

Here's a gritty, apocalyptic vision of helicoprion. The Permian extinction was such a bummer:

And look at these fossil helicoprion teeth. You can easily see how people thought this was an ammonite shell or something instead of shark teeth. Dang, I wouldn't know what this is:

In closing, if you have a shark fan in your house, young or old, get "Sharkabet!"

And think about where YOU'D put that spiral of teeth.


  • At 9:00 PM, Anonymous D'na Freespirit said…

    The thing that I always wonder about the helicoprion is.. how did it eat with a jaw like that? Though, I guess sharks aren't really known for chewing their food.

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