Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Placodermi
Order Arthrodira
Suborder Brachythoraci
Family Dunkleosteidae
Genus Dunkleosteus
1st Species Dunkleosteus terrelli
2nd Species Dunkleosteus newberryi
3rd Species Dunkleosteus missouriensis
4th Species Dunkleosteus magnificus
Other attributes
Time Range 382-358 mya
Location United States of America, Canada, Poland, Belgium, Morocco
Name Meaning Dunkle's bone
Physical Dimensions 6 meters long for D.terrelli
Weight 1.8 tonnes for D.terrelli
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Size of the largest specimen of D.terrelli compared to a 1.8 meter tall human.

Dunkleosteus is a dunkleosteid arthrodire placoderm fish from the Late Devonian-Mississippian of the United States of America, Canada, Poland, Belgium, and Morocco. It was named in 1873 by John Strong Newberry. It was one of the biggest placoderms to exist, only beaten in size by the later Titanichthys.


Dunkleosteus resembled the generic placoderm. It was a modern-looking fish with an armored head, toothless jaws, blade-like bony plates protruding off its jaws, large pectoral (arm) fins, a tiny, semi-circular dorsal (back) fin, and a crescent-shaped, shark-like caudal (tail) fin. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin, with bony plates protecting its head.


Dunkleosteus was a predator, preying on trilobites, ray-finned fish, lobe-finned fish, sharks, and smaller placoderms. Even though it lacked teeth, it had sharp, beak-like, bony plates protruding off of its jaws, which were used to cut up prey.


Dunkleosteus was very similar to Titanichthys in terms of size and build; however, while Titanichthys was simply a giant planktivore, Dunkleosteus was an apex predator that ate anything it could get its jaws on. Its body armor would have impeded its movement, and so, it would have been a slow swimmer; because of this, it would have been a partial ambush hunter in order to catch fast prey. However, it could open its jaws in less than a second, creating a vacuum that sucked water particles and small fish into its mouth. Another interesting thing to note is that once it ate a small placoderm, it would only digest the softer flesh, coughing up the harder armor plates.

In popular cultureEdit

Due to documentaries and books focusing on prehistoric animals, Dunkleosteus has risen to a great height among popular prehistoric fish, only being overshadowed by the giant Otodus megalodon. So far, its biggest public appearance was in the 1st episode of the 2003 documentary Chased by Sea Monsters, where it is shown as the apex predator of the Devonian, eating anything it would come across; as well as this, it is shown as being able to bite through chainmail, much to the explorers' delight.

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