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Helicoprion shark tooth fossil found in Guizhou
The Epoch Times
5/22/2004

Archaeologists recently found a 280 million-year-old Helicoprion tooth fossil believed to belongs to the Helicoprion shark family.

The Helicoprion is a mysterious cartilaginous fish that lived 200 to 300 million years ago. At the time, it was the king of the sea that hunted down fish and ammonites with their spirally coiled teeth. The shark's lower jaw curls downward into a tooth-studded spiral with a total of 16 teeth attached. The front teeth were short and small, while the back were big and long. How the spirally-arranged teeth were grown is still a mystery.

The exact date of their extinction is unknown.

Researchers found the Helicoprion fossil in the Gufo Mountain one mile south of Zhijin city in Guizhou Province. The fossil was found in the calcareous rocks with other fossils such as coral. The archeologists estimate, based on location of where the fossil was found, that it was from the Early Permian period-about 280 million years old.

The Helicoprion fossils come from the Carboniferous and early Tirassic Period and are normally found in Eurasia, North America and Australia. In ancient, China there existed the Changxing Chinese Helicoprion, Zhufeng Chinese Helicoprion, and Giant Chinese Helicoprion, and an unidentified Helicoprion fossil type found in Xinjiang in northwest China.

Several Helicoprions were found in the Ural Mountains during the end of the nineteenth century by Russian paleontologist A.P. Karpinsky. The fossils were from the Artinskian Age of the Early Permian Period with fossils later to be found in North America and Australia.

Helico is Greek word meaning "spiral" or "whorl," and prion is also Greek meaning "saw." So Helicoprion literally means "spiral saw."

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