Exhibit Explores Prehistoric High Desert Shark

Whimsical Artwork by Ray Troll Depicts Buzzsaw Sharks

Prehistoric sharks are coming home to the High Desert! Aptly-named Helicoprion, which means spiral saw,  a monster of a fish with a jaw that’s described as nightmarish. It lived in the High Desert more than 250 million years ago, swimming in ancient seas that covered the land. Fossils of their whorls of teeth puzzled paleontologists for more than a century and — not long ago — became the obsession of Alaskan artist Ray Troll.

Together, Troll and scientists solved the mystery of this baffling creature. The shark, and Ray Troll’s fantastic depictions of it, are the focus of The Buzzsaw Sharks of Long Ago, an exhibition opening at the High Desert Museum on September 24.

“Ray Troll is well known for his unique style of artwork which combines art, science and humor to explore extinct species or the salmon spawning in the stream below his studio in Alaska,” said the Museum’s Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph. D. “His fascination with this one shark for more than two decades resulted in a unique collaboration with scientists from the Idaho Museum of Natural History to help discover the nature of this truly bizarre, prehistoric creature.”

The dynamic exhibit has something for the whole family, featuring vibrant illustrations by Ray Troll, a dramatic life-sized model of a buzzsaw shark bursting through a wall by paleo-sculpture Gary Staab, a mechanical interactive jaw, an array of fossils, children’s activities, short documentaries, music and more. In addition, Troll will be at the High Desert Museum on October 21 and 22 giving presentations and holding workshops. See the Museum’s online calendar of events for details.

Prior to the public exhibit opening, there will be an exclusive members’ exhibit opening on September 23, with special guest speaker Dr. Ted Fremd, paleontologist with the University of Oregon and U.S. National Park Service. Dr. Fremd will discuss his research in the John Day Fossil Beds and include some of the remarkable extinct creatures that once roamed the High Desert region. The opening is from 6:30– 8pm, and is free for members, $5 for member guests. RSVP at www.highdesertmuseum.org/rsvp.

The Buzzsaw Sharks of Long Ago exhibit is organized by the Idaho Museum of Natural History in collaboration with Ray Troll.

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