What fed the huge armored fish 380 million years ago

(ORDO NEWS) — The fossilized remains of relatives of a 5-meter fish, among which was the more famous Dunkleosteus, clearly show sharp teeth and plates for crushing food in the mouth of predators.

They indicate that ocean dwellers probably hunted large victims and could also devour animals with hard shells on occasion. But Titanichthys had a rather narrow lower jaw, in which teeth or any other cutting / crushing surfaces were simply absent. How so?

Working with colleagues from the University of Zurich, scientists from the University of Bristol created a computer model of such a jawbone, based on titanichthys fossils found in the Moroccan part of the Sahara desert.

Then they actually subjected this model to the mechanical impact that it would have experienced if it had bitten a large prey or a hard-shell victim.

It was found that during such manipulations the jaw is most likely to break.

The same is observed on the models of the jaws of modern whales and sharks, especially giant sharks who practice the so-called “continuous feeding”. They swim in water with an open mouth, capturing a large number of small organisms, such as plankton.

“We found that Titanichthys was most likely filtering the nutrient suspension, which caused its lower jaw to be significantly less mechanically strong than other placoderms that feed on large and hard-coated prey,” explained Sam Coatham of U Bristol, lead study author.


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