by Rich Wood
illustrated by Ted Walke
Even before dinosaurs roamed the land, there were dinosaur fishes swimming in the earth's waters. Scientists have found the fossils of one of these dino-fish right here in Pennsylvania. This animal lived about 370 million years ago. It probably swam our prehistoric seas for about 50 million to 60 million years before it became extinct.
The bones of this creature have been found in Erie, Warren, and Crawford counties, in the northwestern part of the state. The fossil remains of this fish have also been found across North America, in Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, California, and Missouri. It has also been found in Belgium, Morocco, Poland, and Russia.
This fish is called Dunkleosteus [Dunk-el-os-tee-us]. "Dunk" was one kind of fish in a single group known as arthrodires [arth-ro-di-res], which means "jointed neck." These dino-fish had large heads that were covered with hard, bony plates. These bony plates were like suits of armor. Their jaws were very powerful with sharp, toothlike plates.
Dunkleosteus was believed to have been about 30 feet long and truly considered an underwater monster! That's as big as a school bus! This large, awesome predator probably ate anything it could sink its jaws into.
Although this swimming beast is not the largest fish to have lived on earth, it was one of the fiercest. Move aside, T-Rex. Here comes Dunkleosteus, king of the Dino-fish!
PDF file of this article
January/February 1999 PA Angler & Boater
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Web Privacy and Security Policies