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Dunkleosteus - Essay Example

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The Dunkleosteus is a famous prehistoric fish which is supposed to thrived during the Devonian period about 36-415 million years ago. Looking at the phylogeny of the vertebrates, Dunkleosteus belong to the Gnathostomata or the group of jawed vertebrates. The characteristic of this genus classified it with the Placodermi, the group of armored prehistoric fish that started to appear during the Sillurian period and perished during the transformation between Devonian to the Carboniferous…
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24 September 2007 Dunkleosteus The Dunkleosteus is a famous prehistoric fish which is supposed to thrived during the Devonian period about 36-415 million years ago. Looking at the phylogeny of the vertebrates, Dunkleosteus belong to the Gnathostomata or the group of jawed vertebrates. The characteristic of this genus classified it with the Placodermi, the group of armored prehistoric fish that started to appear during the Sillurian period and perished during the transformation between Devonian to the Carboniferous. The genus Dunkleosteus is in the order Arthrodita and family of Dinichthyidae.
The Gnathostomata became the dominant organisms during the Devonian Period. Their primary difference to other vertebrates is their vertical biting device or the jaws which "consist of an endoskeletal mandibular arch and a wide variety of exoskeletal grasping, crushing, or shearing organs" including the teeth and the jaw bones (Janvier 2). The living organisms in this classification include sharks, rays, chimearas, ray-finned fishes, and land vertebrates.
The clade of Placodermi is now in extinction because of the incapacity of the organisms to survive. The Placoderm are characterized by the presence of dermal armor comprising of a head armor and thoracic armor. Their thoracic armor is distinct because the foremost dental plates forms a ring around the body and include one median dorsal plate (Janvier 3).
The order Anthrodita is comprised of organisms in Placodermi which have movable joints between the armor surrounding the head and the body. The organisms belonging to this class is also distinct for their two sets of upper tooth plates, gnathal plates which are tuberculated, and large endocrinal postorbital process (Janvier 4). These structures allow the lower jaw to move down while the head shield also budge for a large opening.
Together with their extinctions of these prehistoric armored fish, their primary characteristics of having armors which covers their entire head and some of their body. The functional jaws of the placoderms have become an obvious feeding advantage and are now a primary feature of all many fish.
Even though these organisms did not survive the transformation from Devonian to the Carboniferous period, some of their characteristics evolve and are passed on to the new generation of organisms. It should be noted that the Dunkleosteus like other Placoderms, are among the first vertebrates to have internal fertilization. This characteristic has evolved to other more advanced aquatic species.
Work Cited
Janvier, Philippe. 1997. Gnathostomata. Jawed Vertebrates. Version 01 January 1997 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Gnathostomata/14843/1997.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/ Read More
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