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Art Print: Helicoprion - 11″ x 17″ color print on white, heavyweight card-stock.

Art Print - Helicoprion


    A prehistoric, enormous cartilaginous rat-fish belonging to the same family as sharks and rays, the Helicoprion existed for about 85 million years, from the end of the Carboniferous period till the Triassic, disappearing around 225 million years ago. For more than a hundred hears, that wacky tooth-whorl has been predominantly depicted by paleontologists as encompassing the lower jaw and curling backwards and underneath, which admittedly looks insane and seemed a bit implausible. Six months after making the original/previous version of this shirt, some very authoritative findings were published that confidently place the whorl inside the bottom jaw, like a vertical saw blade inside the mouth, as I have depicted here.

    Since cartilage doesn’t really fossilize, the bony tooth whorls are all that are found of the Helicoprion. So the actual anatomy of the fish is a bit up for interpretation as well. Since the fish could reach 25 feet in length, it's hard to imagine it as a slow, awkward, modern day rat-fish. Was it more of a mackerel shark in shape, like a mako or a greatwhite, or more floppy like the goblin shark or sand tiger? Maybe it was more prehistoric in nature, like today's ancient looking Hexanchiformes, such as the sixgill and sevengill sharks, whom possess more than the usual five gills on each side of the head (hence the name) and only one dorsal fin? We can only guess. So, I took some liberties and mixed in a bit of the goblin shark, in regards to fin placement and the strange pointed nose, but gave it the extra long pectoral fins of a Blue Shark, and a caudal fin with a long upper lobe and sub-terminal notch, but with a highly exaggerated caudal keel. He got an extra gill too, for prehistoric sake.
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