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STL Science Center
19 April 2014
Just Floating Around
Dunkleosteus has never been touted as a fast swimmer, in part because their armored head was heavy enough that the massive muscles it must have possessed in order to swim in the first place would have taken up all kinds of space in its body and not really left much room for speed swimming muscle. Because this was most likely a slow moving predator with a crushing bite ambush is a likely mode of predation. As such, most illustrations of Dunkleosteus show a lumbering fish with a powerful head and tiny eyes. Unfortunately most of these illustrations also show a fish with what appears to be a set of separated and specialized teeth. Dunkleosteus, however, did not possess teeth so much as bony ridges protruding from the edges of its armored and heavy skull. The skull's edge ridges are actually best thought of as nearly analogous to the beak of a turtle or raptorial bird. This beak could bite into other heavily armored placoderms, possibly including other Dunkleosteus (Dunkleostei?).