True, it’s a fossil shark, but there’s precedent for that. Idaho has a state fossil, the Hagerman Horse. The shark I’m talking about is Helicoprion, which once swam the oceans over what is now Soda Springs. “Once” was about 250 million years ago.
I’ve seen the famous fossils. Every time I’ve looked at them they puzzled me. I’m not alone. They puzzle scientists, too. Sharks don’t fossilize well because their skeletons are made of cartilage. Shark teeth, on the other hand, can hang around for millennia. So it is with the Helicoprion. All we have to prove that it once existed are teeth. But those teeth are so weird. They make up a spiral with small teeth in the center growing geometrically until those on the outer edge become large (picture, top).
With just those buzz-saw teeth to work from, scientists have speculated for years on what the shark would have looked like. Were the teeth in the front of its mouth? In the back? Were they down its throat somehow?
In 2013 an international team of paleontologists, including Professor Leif Tapanila of the Idaho Museum of Natural History and Idaho State University published a paper about the shark in the journal Biology Letters, describing a rare fossil specimen that contained enough cartilage to give scientists a better idea of the creature’s jaw configuration. The image, from that publication, shows several previous depictions above the larger version that their findings describe.
Cute, huh? Even if you’d pass on the state shark idea, think of the mascot possibilities! Soda Springs Cardinals, have you thought of this?