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Meet Dunkleosteus: A Violent Prehistoric Predator With Blades for Teeth

It could snap a shark in half.

Here's a reason to be grateful you weren't alive 360 million years ago: That's when the Dunkleosteus thrived.

Don't know what that is? Again, probably for the best, because it's terrifying. The Dunkleosteus was a fish bigger than a killer whale that ate basically everything and had giant teeth that could snap a shark in half.

You know, just a bunch of reasons we should be glad they don't exist now.

The Dunkleosteus populated the Devonian period, characterized as "the Age of Fishes," according to NatGeo. The outlet reported that the "most formidable" fish of the period was the Dunkleosteus, which had "powerful jaws lined with blade-like plates that acted as teeth."

These razor-sharp teeth allowed it to eat everything from sharks to other Dunkleosteuses, per BBC.

It was the king of the sea, so to speak, thanks to its sheer size (upward of 30 feet) and giant bite. Plus, as LiveScience reported, its bladed jaws were unique to their species. This made other animals, even sharks, no match for their flesh-tearing attributes.

Their biting power has been compared to that of the T-Rex, and is thought to be the most powerful of any fish ever. Additionally, it was an early type of suction-feeding animal, meaning that it could quickly open its jaws and create an inhaling force that would literally draw prey into its mouth.

Basically, the sharks never stood a chance against the 4-ton beast.

But, the Dunkleosteus wasn't just at the precipice of jawed fish or suction feeders. It also may have been among the first animals to have to physically mate to reproduce. BBC reported that the Dunkleosteus could be found as male or female, unlike hermaphroditic fish that were able to self-reproduce.

The bony fish was named after the Greek word for bone, osteus, and dunkle after David Dunkle from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. David Dunkle, along with Jay Terrell, discovered the first fossils in 1867.

The bony nature of the fish has allowed for its plated front half to be found in fossilized states. These are now housed in a number of museums, including New York City's American Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The back half of what the fish looks like is unknown.

But, there have been drawn approximations based on other, similar fish of the time.

Even without totally knowing what the full fish looks like, though, the fossils of the head alone are enough to strike fear into anyone's heart. All we can say is thank goodness we weren't sharks in the Devonian Period.

They sure had it rough with a predator like the Dunkleosteus to contend with.



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