Fun Helicoprion Facts For Kids

Nidhi Sahai
Jan 13, 2023 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Sep 30, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Helicoprion facts!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

Helicoprion is a genus of shark-like Eugeneodont fish and is extinct now. The specimen has shown that these fishes had their teeth arranged in spiral-like clusters which were called ‘tooth whorl’ which used to be embedded in the lower jaw.

Most of the cartilaginous fish’s skeleton is unknown.

Chimeras were the closest known living relatives of this species Helicoprion, but their relation is quite distant. To eat the soft bodies preys, these fishes have this unusual spirally tooth arrangement.

This weird arrangement also has functioned as a deshelling mechanism of the hard-bodied cephalopods. The species H.davisii, H.bessonowi, and H.ergassaminon were considered valid after a systematic revision of Helicoprion in the year 2013 by morphometric analysis of tooth whorls.

The Russian paleontologist Andrzej P. Karpinski discovered one of the type species called H.bessonovi in the Ural Mountains in the year 1899.

This type of fossil a like a holotype based on a single tooth-whorl. This distinguishing feature of the Helicoprion tooth whorl of this species has confused scientists a lot as they were quite confused about where does this actually fit.

For more such facts, keep reading. Here are some more interesting facts about other dinosaurs like the Xiphactinus and Cretoxyrhina.

Helicoprion Interesting Facts

Was the Helicoprion a dinosaur?

No, the Helicoprion was not a dinosaur. Rather it was a large dangerous shark that was almost like the monsters of the sea. The Helicoprion skull had many parts. The restoration of the skull showed a chondrocranium,  palatoquadrate,  Cartilage (Meckel's cartilage,  labial cartilage), and tooth whorl.

How do you pronounce 'Helicoprion'?

The pronunciation of this predatory spiral-toothed shark is 'hai-li-cop-ri-on'. This fish did not eat any hard-bodied creature because they used to just simply slip out of their mouth. The tooth whorl was embedded in the lower jaw.

What type of prehistoric animal was a Helicoprion?

Helicoprion species was a giant predator shark of the family Helicoprionidae.

In which geological period did the Helicoprion live?

The Helicoprion used to live during the Permian period from the Artinskian stage of the Cisuralian (Early Permian) to the Roadian stage of the Guadalupian (Middle Permian), an Early Cretaceous period which was somewhere 20 million years ago. The name Helicoprion refers to the 'spiral saw' in Greek.

They were existing in the countries of North America, Russia, and Australia.

When did the Helicoprion become extinct?

The exact account of their extinction is not clear yet. They got extinct somewhere around 225 million years ago and were called prehistoric ratfish. The jaws had tooth whorls. The fossil was found in Idaho.

Where did a Helicoprion live?

These aquatic creatures have their fossil found in many parts of the world. Countries like China, Japan, Laos, Norway, Canada, United States of America, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, California, Kazakhstan, Russia, Nevada, and Western Australia.

What was a Helicoprion's habitat?

These sharks used to live in water but the account of living in deep water or shallow water is still not known as of now. The 50% of fossils of this species Helicoprion are the H.davisii specimen discovered from the Phosphoria Formation of Idaho. Ural Mountains has more than 25% of fossils found of the species H. bessonowi.

Who did a Helicoprion live with?

Helicoprion sharks were giant shark-like creatures with an absolutely horrifying appearance. It used to eat small fish and other marine creatures. They might have had very small shoals of the same species but no other species would have been socially active with this water shark because of their appearance and nature.

How long did a Helicoprion live?

The exact information on the lifespan of these marine creatures is not known yet. But they lived during the late Carboniferous 280 million years ago.

How did they reproduce?

There is no information on that. The 50% of fossils of this species Helicoprion are the H.davisii specimens discovered from the Phosphoria Formation of Idaho.

Helicoprion Fun Facts

What did a Helicoprion look like?

Helicoprion and some other Eugeneodonts had skeletons that were made of cartilages just like other chondrichthyan fish. And that is why the body disintegrated on getting decayed but can be saved if preserved under exceptional circumstances.

Because of this problem with the specimens, it makes it tricky for the scientists to have a good estimate of their body structure. The postcranial fossil has been very useful in giving an estimate of the body shapes of these species.

This Helicoprion shark has streamlined or torpedo-shaped bodies just like Xiphactinus. They had triangular pectoral fins and a single triangular and large dorsal fin. They lacked fin spine.

The forked and tall caudal fin appeared with two same-sized lobes. Swordfish, lamnid sharks, and tuna also have the same body plan as that of Helicoprion. Eugeneodonts did not have anal and pelvic fins and also might have broad keels.

Heliocorpion had no bones and like sharks were made of cartilages.

How many bones did a Helicoprion have?

The number of bones in a Helicoprion species is not known yet but if we consider Helicoprion as a shark, then it has no bones as sharks don't have bones.

How did they communicate?

These shark-like creatures did not make any noises and so were unable to do any verbal communication. But what they do is they send signals visually. Visual displays like nodding the heads, opening the jaws, and arching the bodies in a way to send some signals are some ways to interact or communicate for sharks.

How big was a Helicoprion?

These famous giant marine predators of North America were 196.85-314.96 in (5-8 m). They were like giant shark monsters of the marine world. The Helicoprion fossil size was twice as tall as humans today and might be able to eat them as a whole in one go.

How fast could a Helicoprion swim?

The speed of swimming of this shark is not known, but just like other sharks, they were good swimmers as they needed to catch their prey fast. The average speed with which a shark could swim was around 31 mph (50 kph).

How much did a Helicoprion weigh?

This shark-like fish of Early Cretaceous period Helicoprion (Helicoprion bessonowi) size or weight was almost 500-1000 lb (226.79-453.59 kg). The specimen was found in Idaho.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and the female of this dinosaur species of North America Helicoprion specimen (Helicoprion bessonowi). The spiral tooth whorl was embedded in the lower jaw rather than the upper jaw of the mouth.

What would you call a baby Helicoprion?

The baby of this herbivore dinosaur species Helicoprion (Helicoprion bessonowi) does not have any particular name to get called by. They were called baby Helicoprion.

What did they eat?

These shark-like fish of the Early Cretaceous period were avid eaters and their prey were mostly small fishes and Cephalopods with tooth whorl. Cephalopods were like modern-day squids and octopuses. Present-day species of sharks eat seals, dolphins, sea lions, tuna, tortoises, and even some small species of sharks.

How aggressive were they?

These huge creatures were quite aggressive as sharks tend to be fierce. Their wild hunting style is enough to say that they were a dangerous group of animals of marine life.

Did you know...

There is big doubt on these creatures being a shark or not. After further Helicoprion fossil studies, some scientists are of the opinion whether these animals were sharks or not. Scientists believe that these creatures were related to Chimaeras – cartilaginous fish who separated their lineage from that of sharks about 400 million years ago.

Chimaeras were deep-sea fishes who were known for their large heads as compared to bodies. Chimeras had grinding bone plates that were used to grind soft-shelled marine animals. While sharks have replaceable teeth.

Why did the Helicoprion go extinct?

There is no information available on that. They lived in the early cretaceous period which was somewhere 20 million years ago. The tooth whorl was present in the Helicoprion jaw.

How many teeth did a Helicoprion have?

These marine animals had a complex whorl which had 180 teeth and their fitting in the mouth must have been quite complex. After further studies of the fossils reconstruction, it made clear that the teeth of this cartilaginous animal Helicoprion resembled a lot to the bunch of Paleozoic sharks known as Edestus.

Most of the cartilaginous fish’s skeleton is unknown.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Postosuchus facts and Razanandrongobe facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Helicoprion coloring pages.


First image is an illustration by Entelognathus.

Second image is an illustration by Dmitry Bogdanov.

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Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

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Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

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