Discover what Dunkleosteus was like, the deadliest predator of the seas 400 million years ago

Skull of Dunkleosteus terrelli on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Numerous Dunkleosteus fossils have been found nearby, in the cliffs along the Rocky River. (Russell Engelman)

A new study has significantly reduced the estimated size dunkleosteus, Fossil fish considered the deadliest predator in the seas 400 million years ago.

With a sting that could split a shark and an armored appearance, the dunkleosteusIt belongs to the ancient fish family known as arthropods;was one of the first predators in Land He terrorized the subtropical seas during this period Devonian360 million years ago. By some estimates, the monstrous fish It was as tall as a school bus.

However, a new study has significantly lowered the estimated size dunkleosteusReport this Tuesday The New York Times.

Russell Engelmanpaleontologist at Case Western Reserve University, compared head proportions dunkleosteus The size of the skulls of hundreds of living and fossil fish and came to the conclusion that these ancient fish It measures 4.5 meters at most It was shaped more like a plump tuna than a skinny shark.

Size comparison of Dunkleosteus, a human and a great white shark. (Russell Engelman)

The results of the research were published last month in the journal diversity.

For the study, Engelman examined several samples of Dunkleosteus Terrelli From the Museum of Natural History Cleveland. Many of these fossils have been discovered in the area, in bluffs along the Rocky River.

Since most of Dunkleosteus’ body was likely made of fragile cartilage, only the thick plates that covered its head and neck have survived as fossils. Although these paintings retain the jagged jaws A predator, she reveals little of the rest of her body.

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According to Engelman, head length is a reliable predictor of fish body size: shorter species tend to have shorter, longer heads.

The researcher focused on the area between the eye and the back of the head. “An organism can’t change the size of this area much because it’s a place brain and the nostrils;Engelman explained to The New York Times. “If your nostrils get too small, you suffocate.”

A picture of what may be the largest white shark in the world. Dunkleosteus is believed to have been twice the size of the great white shark and may have weighed more than the longer sharks. (© 2016 Media Drum / Grosby Group)

Engelmann compared the size of this region to dunkleosteus with the head proportions of nearly 1,000 other fossil and modern fish species. After passing measurements through several models, he came to the conclusion that the average head dunkleosteus, which measures about 60 cm, corresponds to a fish just over 3 meters long. The largest known Dunkleosteus measured about 4.5 metres.

reduce length dunkleosteus He also changed her lineage. Most reconstructions show Dunkleosteus with the elongated body of a shark. However, more complete arthropod fossils reveal that these fish had flatter, more cylindrical bodies.

According to Engelman, the dunkleosteus It probably looked more like a round tuna. In addition, its mouth was twice the size of a great white shark, and it probably weighed more than the longest shark.

“People say he’s skinny, but it’s probably just solid muscle,” Engelman said.

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