When you hear the word "shark," you probably think of those streamlined biological torpedoes with way too many teeth that we know and love and fear from TV and movies. But back before evolution had shaved the rough edges off, there were a ton of animals that looked downright dumb. One of these animals was an early species of shark called the Helicoprion:
With a lower jaw shaped like a hill in a Dr. Seuss book, the Helicoprion baffles paleontologists to this day. What was the purpose of that ridiculous lip? Was it a kind of whip/lasso combo that struck out at prey and then reeled it in? How did the shark reach top speeds and avoid colliding with reefs with that giant thing hanging out? Did it get punched in the mouth, find its lower lip swelling up, convince all the female Helicoprions that this look was totally cool and intentional, and manage to then somehow pass along the giant lip gene to its offspring? Obviously, that's a joke, but why else does it look like that???
This confusion is reflected in many nature artists' representations of the Helicoprion. It's hard to show a 250-million-year-old predator the proper respect when you have no idea why its most defining physical feature exists. Safe to say Helicoprion would be scrolling through all these drawings saying, "Nahh, delete it. Or at least don't tag me."
Let Bruce the Shark (in plush form!) remind you that fish are friends, not food.
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