It was big. It was mean. And it could bite a shark in two.
Scientists say Dunkleosteus terrelli might have been “the first king of the beasts.” The prehistoric fish was 33 feet long and weighed up to four tons. It had bladed jaws, a flesh-tearing feature that the sharks it preyed upon had not yet developed.
The creature lived 400 million years ago.
“Dunkleosteus was able to devour anything in its environment,” said study leader Philip Anderson, at the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago.
Fast and powerful
Scientists already knew Dunkleosteus was the dominant predator of its time.
But Anderson and Mark Westneat, Curator of Fishes at the Field Museum in Chicago, used a fossil of the creature [image] to make a computer model of its muscles and its bite. They conclude that could chomp with 1,100 pounds of force, which translates to 8,000 pounds per square inch at the tip of a fang.
And it was quick, opening its jaws in just one fiftieth of a second. That action would have created suction to draw prey into its mouth.