“It kind of blows sharks out of the water as far as bite force goes. A huge great white shark is probably capable of biting at about only half that force.”
— Mark Westneat, curator of fishes at Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago
Be glad you weren’t a diver 360 -million years ago. Dunkleosteus terrelli, a 4-ton, 33-foot, armor-plated fish that cruised the oceans before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, hunted creatures much larger than itself, using its bladelike jaws to tear prey in two. The prehistoric fish had the most powerful jaws of any known fish, including today’s great white shark.
Scientists say Dunkleosteus’ bite was so crushing that only a few animals — such as Tyrannosaurus rex and modern alligators — deliver a more devastating bite. Dunkleosteus could also open its mouth very quickly — in just one-fiftieth of a second — creating a strong suction force that pulled even fast-moving prey into its mouth.
Dunkleosteus was a placoderm, a diverse group of armored fish that dominated aquatic ecosystems during the Late Devonian Period.