Ketchikan artist Ray Troll is opening a new exhibit at the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello, Idaho, featuring artwork based on one of his favorite subjects.
“I’ve been obsessed with this shark for a long, long time,” he said. “It’s the old whorly-toothed shark, yes. Old Ray’s bringing up the old whorly-toothed shark (again).”
The whorl-toothed shark is an ancient beast that has long been extinct. Troll, a citizen-scientist and self-described “paleo-nerd,” has been fascinated by the creature for about two decades. This exhibit, called “The Whorl-Toothed Sharks of Idaho,” opening June 22, also involves some of Troll’s favorite artists, musicians, photographers and scientists.
“We have a life-sized sculpture, a 15-foot model of one, and then we have the head of one bursting through the museum wall,” he said. “You can stand next to it and have your picture taken with it.”
Time for an explanation. The whorl is the shark’s teeth. Instead of two rows of horizontal teeth, this extinct carnivore had one vertical, circular row, kind of like a buzzsaw.
Troll says the exhibit will remain in Idaho until at least the end of this year, and then will become a traveling show. It might come to Ketchikan, although it likely requires more space than local facilities can provide.
In addition to the exhibit, Troll is working on a documentary film about the sharks, with Ketchikan photographer and videographer Marc Osborn. Links to a preview of the film and a National Geographic article about the shark are below.