Sunday, 29 November 2009

Dunkleosteus, the ultimate sea monster from hell!

At 30 feet long Dunkleosteus is one of the largest predatory fish ever. It lived 400 million years ago in the Devonian period.

What makes this fish so special is its advanced jaw mechanism. This allows it to open its jaws in a fifteenth of a second, sucking in its prey. It also had the bite force of 4 T'rex's. That's 5000 kg of bite force!

Dunkleosteus was a Placoderm or armoured fish. This group of animals lived only in the Devonian period. To protect it, Dunkleosteus needed a 2inch thick coat of armour around its head, and for good reason.

Fossils of Dunkleosteus heads have been found with bite marks, but what animal would dare challenge this mighty beast? Another Dunkleosteus, scientists think that it was a cannibal.

Another line of evidence suggests that Dunkleosteus was able to regurgitate the remains of its victims that were indigestible. This is suggested by mysterious fossilised clumps of fish bones and armour found in Devonian sediments. The only known animal large enough to produce such an amount of waste was a Dunkleosteus.

Nothing is known about the body of Dunkleosteus. Its bones consisted of cartilage like sharks do today, this rarely fossilises leaving scientists to ponder over what this creature actually looked like. From smaller specimens of its close relatives we are pretty sure that Dunkleosteus had a rather shark like body and tail, however it is often reconstructed more robustly.

For more information on Dunkleosteus click these links:
1: Sea monsters, Dunkleosteus pt1, pt2
2: Dunkleosteus facts video (sorry about the preceding advert)

For more information about the Devonian in general click these links:
1:Tikaalic (preceding advert)
2:Acanthodian (preceding advert)
3:Ichthyostega (preceding advert)
4:Eusthenopteron (preceding advert)
5:Bothriolepis (preceding advert)
6:Materpicis (preceding advert)

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