That is a monstrous, armored-plated fish...called Dunkleosteus. A real leviathan there.
— Allen, about Dunkleosteus
in Armored Fish

Dunkleosteus (name meaning "Dunkle's Bones") is a genus of arthrodire placoderm fish that originated during the Late Devonian epoch in what is now North America, Europe, and Africa. Measuring 9 meters long and weighing 5 tons, this large, heavily-armored carnivorous fish was the apex predator of the Devonian seas, using its teeth-like jaw plates to slice through flesh.

In the Series 1 episode "Armored Fish," a single female Dunkleosteus was brought back to the park from Late Devonian North America, 360 million years ago. She resides in the marine exhibit of the park. Unknown to the team, two juvenile Dunkleosteus had also followed them through the time portal, and now live in a separate tank.

Facts[edit | edit source]

Era & Discovery[edit | edit source]

Dunkleosteus lived during the Late Devonian era from 382 to 358 million years ago, living alongside animals like Stethacanthus, Hyneria, and even other armored-plated fish. After thriving more than 50 million years as the apex predator in the Devonian Seas, the entire class of placoderms, Dunkleosteus included, disappeared.

While Dunkleosteus was first discovered in 1873, it was named in 1956 in honor of paleontologists David Dunkle, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, hence its name meaning, "Dunkle's Bones". Numerous fossils of some species of Dunkleosteus have been found in North America, Poland, Belgium, and Morocco.

Physical Attributes[edit | edit source]

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The largest and apex predator of its time, Dunkleosteus was a massive animal that measured over 30 feet (9 m) in length and would have weighed at least 4 – 5 tons (8,000 – 11,000 lb), the weight of two to three elephants, give or take. It had two pairs of large and powerful fins. On its back was a short albeit long-running dorsal fin. It also had a thick and withstanding armor-plated head. The rest of its body was bare flesh. Its jaws were powerful and were lined with teeth-like bony plates which were used to shear off chunks of meat and to crush bone. Dunkleosteus also had large, blue eyes.

Dunkleosteus4.jpg

These creatures had a fearsome head, which also shows the classic features of Dunkleosteus. They had very thick and protective armor plating on the front of their bodies on the heads, up to over two inches thick and only the first half of their bodies were covered with that. Additionally, it was also what was in its mouth that is horrific. Rather than having teeth, Dunkleosteus possessed extensions of its jawbones. They were for shearing prey and these animals have to punch through other armored fish and those jaws were backed up by powerful mussels at the back of the neck. They had these massive jaws with big sharp shears sticking out. They sliced them together in a similar fashion to scissors, the action of slicing them together keeps them sharp and with that, these giant armored fish could cut through anything.

Behavior & Traits[edit | edit source]

Dunkleosteus was a solitary but titanic predator, in fact, it was the largest predator in the Devonian period. What made it so powerful was its protective armor plating and its powerful jaws which contained several, teeth-like bony plates. These plates were used to grind and shear off pieces of flesh.

Because of its strong jaws, Dunkleosteus could bite through armor-plating as strong as chainmail. However, they couldn't digest those parts and would regurgitate the plates as well as any other inedible parts of its prey's anatomy. Therefore, Dunkleosteus, similar to modern-day anaconda's, spit up their food. Rather than being sick, Dunkleosteus, as a predatory fish that feeds on armored food, needs to get rid of the indigestible bits and it was perfectly normal...for 360 million years ago.

Due to the other lethal competition in the Devonian seas, Dunkleosteus would kill anything that got in its way. This even included its own kind, even if it was just a juvenile Dunkleosteus. As a result, Dunkleosteus was not just predatory; they were often cannibalistic as well.

Journal Entry[edit | edit source]

A giant, armored plated fish of the Devonian Era, Dunkleosteus ("Dunkle's Bones") was a real leviathan with skin over 2 inches thick, measures over 30 ft. long and weighs 4-5 tons. Dunkleosteus was the apex predator of the Devonian seas, over 360 million years ago. When looking at its fearsome head, which itself shows classical features of Dunkleosteus, it appears that this armored-plated fish didn't have any teeth, but instead had extensions of its jawbones.

With these jawbones, these sea predators could use them to sheer through even other armored fish. However, when they eat armored fish, Dunkleosteus would spit up its food. As it appears, it's quite normal behavior. Instead of being sick, these predators had to spit up the parts of their food that were indigestible. Surprisingly, these fish also happen to be not only predators but cannibals as well, eating even little Dunkleosteus.

— Allen, in his Journal, about Dunkleosteus

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Dunkleosteus portrayed in the series is larger than its real-life counterpart. In reality, as opposed to 30 ft. (9 m) long and 5 tons in weight, Dunkleosteus grew now larger than 19 ft. (6 m) and weighed 1 ton at most.
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