STL Science Center

STL Science Center

18 April 2014

Ocean Voyages

In the continuing tradition of April, this week is another deviation from the norm. Rather than venturing back into the Mesozoic and staying on land, this week the plan is to slide off the beach and back in time even further, to the wild seas of the Late Devonian. 380 to 360 million years ago armored fish roamed the oceans of Earth. Many of these fish were still jawless animals that would barely be recognized as fish, but the earliest jawed fishes were clearly taking control of the seas by the Late Devonian. One set of the larger jawed fish, a truly charismatic mega-fish genus, was Dunkleosteus. Named for David Dunkle and the bony head that is the most commonly found fossil associated with the animal, Dunkleosteus was a hypercarnivorous fish capable of eating its way through the ocean with sharp bony ridges on its jaws and a powerful bite. As far as fish go this is a well known fossil and a rather well documented fossil at that. Who knew a fish would be so fun or interesting?

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