The Buzzsaw Sharks of Long Ago

Exhibit description:

HelicoprionHead-RayTroll-2013The Idaho Museum of Natural History is touring a major new exhibit that tracks the unfolding perceptions of a big, bizarre prehistoric whorl-toothed shark. Although first described in 1899 from a fossil whorl found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, most of the world’s still-rare specimens of Helicoprion have been unearthed in Idaho’s phosphate mines. In 2013, a significant breakthrough led by Idaho State University researchers collaborating with modern shark specialists and a Helicoprion-obsessed artist shed important new light on the weird animal.

The exhibit presents a wide array of spectacular Helicoprion fossils integrated with original artworks by Alaskan artist Ray Troll. Also featured are a dramatic life-sized model by renowned paleo-sculptor Gary Staab of the shark bursting through a museum wall, a mechanical interactive jaw, children’s activities, whirling gobo lights, a digital aquarium, original music, a short documentary and more. Fun for the whole family, the exhibit is a unique combination of science, art, music and humor that explores the many ways people come to know the natural world through fascinating animals and the quest to unravel a provocative mystery.

 Contents: Exhibit features the following

  • 21 artworks by Ray Troll
  • 1 hand-painted mural (17’ long unframed canvas) by Ray Troll & Memo Jauregui
  • 2 large life-sized sculptures of Helicoprion by Gary Staab of Staab Studios
  • 3 vinyl banners with original Ray Troll artwork
  • 2 Gobo lights (with stylized Helicoprion whorls)
  • 2 flat screen television sets with digital content
  • Humorous documentary film about the artist, Ray Troll
  • Whorl-patterned “art couch”
  • Digital aquarium
  • Whorl-patterned curtains
  • Interactive Helicoprion jaw model
  • Exhibit furniture with original Ray Troll artwork
  • Sound system with original soundtrack music
  • Transparencies for custom wall graphics
  • A number of large Helicoprion fossils
  • Plus casts, labels, and more! (The cheeseburgers are included at no extra charge)

Participation fee:

  • $ 17,500 for a sixteen-week period plus the cost of inbound shipping.


  • 2,000 square feet (can be suited to fit almost any shape gallery)
  • Can be split into smaller sections to fit in multiple galleries
  • At least 9 ft. ceiling clearance is required
  • A member of the institution’s staff is required to be in the gallery at all times visitors are present (can be a volunteer as well)
  • Exhibit can expand or contract (with wall graphics and/or hanging preferences)

Number of Crates:

  • 14 crates (largest crate footprint is 6’ x 12’)
  • Around one 53’ semi trailer or 3 TEU shipping containers

Exhibit support: 

  • Educational and programming resources
  • Publicity kit (with sample press releases and photos)
  • Access to IMNH paleontologists

Books and other merchandise available for purchase:

  • Companion books by Ray Troll include Sharkabet: a Sea of Sharks from A to Z, Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway with Dr. Kirk Johnson, Something Fishy This Way Comes, fossil maps, magnets and T-shirts.

Exhibit photos can be seen at:

National Geographic news story from 2013 about the breakthrough IMNH research on Helicoprion:

For more information contact: