The prehistoric jaws of doom

Dunkleosteus terrelli.It was the first super predator of the ancient seas and its fearsome, jagged jaws still inspire awe 400 million years later.

Dunkleosteus terrelli, which grew up to 10m (33ft) long and weighed four tonnes, could chomp a shark in two with enough power in its bite to dwarf Tyrannosaurus rex. The monster fish, protected by its own armour plating, prowled the seas in the Devonian era 400million years ago. With its blade-like fangs, the Dunkleosteus was the world's first large predator, pre-dating the dinosaurs and other fearsome sea dwellers.

The fish's jaws snapped shut with 11,000lb (5,000kg) of biting power. Channelled into the four fang tips, this force was concentrated to exert 80,000lb per square inch. It would have been able to feast on other armoured aquatic animals living at that time, including sharks, arthropods and ammonoids.

Scientists using a mechanical model to examine the force and motion of its jaws found the unique mechanism, based on four rotating joints working in harmony, gave Dunkleosteus the strongest bite of any fish that has ever existed. Its bladed jaws, capable of ripping apart prey larger than its own mouth, did not develop in sharks for another 100 million years.

Link: Metro
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