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Ancient fish sawed through prey with a spiral blade of teeth

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"Imagine that... instead of having a tongue, you have this large spiral of teeth." That's how the Helicoprion, a fish that lived over 270 million years ago, captured and ate its prey. The distinct stretch of teeth on the nearly 25-foot long creature was a source of uncertainty to scientists, but researchers at Idaho State University have determined how the seemingly deadly jawline works."As the mouth closes, the teeth spin backwards... so they slash through the meat that they are biting into," Dr. Leif Tapanila told the BBC.

Slashing through the meat

The fossil that Tapanila's team analyzed had 117 teeth, though all but a dozen are hidden inside the creature's mouth. The fish's curl of teeth is referred to as a "whorl" and measures over nine inches long on the fossil. However, the Helicoprion may not have been as deadly as it appears: a lack of damage to the creature's teeth suggests that it probably ate softer foods like squid.