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genus of fishes (fossil)

Dunkleosteus was a prehistoric arthrodire. It was a primitive fish from the later Devonian period, about 360 million years ago. Dunkleosteus was a heavily armoured placoderm. Fossils have been found in Morocco, Africa, Poland, Belgium, China, and the USA.

Temporal range: late Devonian
380–360 mya
Dunkleosteus skull QM email.jpg
Dunkleosteus skull, Queensland Museum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Placodermi
Order: Arthrodira
Family: Dinichthyidae
Genus: Dunkleosteus
Lehman, 1956

Placodermi first appeared in the Silurian, and the group became extinct during the transition from the Devonian to the Carboniferous, leaving no descendants. The class lasted barely 50 million years, in comparison to the 400 million year long history of sharks.[1]


This top predator was up to 11.5 ft (3.5 m) long and had large, scissor-like cutting jaws with serrated, razor-sharp bones, but no teeth. Its skull was over 2 feet (65 cm) long. It had a jointed neck, an eel-like tail, a scale-less body, and hinged body shields.


  1. "Dunkleosteus Placodermi Devonian armored fish from Morocco". Fossil Archives. The Virtual Fossil Museum. Retrieved 2009-04-26.