Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dunkleosteus: The Ultimate Predator

There is a new study out concerning my favorite fossil species, the Devonian-era Dunkleosteus terrelli. Scientists at the Field Museum looked at fossils to build a computer model and analyze the animal's bite. Their conclusion: Dunkleosteus, armed with "biting plates" of bone rather than true teeth, was as scary as it looked. The force exerted by the animal's gaping jaws when they closed was estimated at 11,000 lbs (5,000kg), with the force at the tip of a plate being over seven times that.
Researcher Mark Westneat put it this way: "It kind of blows sharks out of the water as far as bite force goes. A huge great white shark is probably only capable of biting at about half that bite force."
Dunkleosteus, nearly the size of a killer whale, went extinct over 300 million years ago, at the end of the Devonian.

Cue very scary music...

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