Dunkleosteus (Dun-kel-os-tee-us), Dunkle's bone, was one of the largest placoderms that lived in the Devonian, and was found in North America, Europe and Africa. Placoderms are known from the Silurian to the Devonian. These are early jawed fish, with heads and throats covered in sections of armor, and which had the first teeth. They died out in the marine and freshwater environmental catastrophes that caused the Devonian/Carboniferous extinction.
Genera and Species
Classification: Placodermi, Arthrodira, Dunkleosteidae.
Species: D. terrelli, D. amblydoratus, D. marsaisi, D. raveri
Synonyms: Dinichthys terrelli, Ponerichthys
Dunkleosteus like other placoderms, had the front 1/3 of the body encased in armor. The boney jaws acted as teeth and had a crushing power greater than that of living sharks. Pigment cells imply Dunkleosteus had dark colors on the back with a silvery belly, not too different a coloration from living boney fish. It was an active swimmer.
LENGTH: 10 m (26 - 36 ft).
WEIGHT: 3 – 6 tons.
Dunkleosteus was the first vertebrate super predator, feeding on sharks, ammonites and other placoderms. The preferred prey may have been other placoderms, including its own species. Fossils evidence shows damage on armor that could have only been caused by another Dunkleosteus. Juvenile’s jaws seem better suited for softer prey, allowing them to avoid competition with adults.
History of Discovery
Discovery, Lehman - 1956; only the giant head is known and the rear is reconstructed based on smaller relatives.
Found in North America, Europe and Africa.