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The Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals of Ohio


Ohio isn't known for its dinosaurs, but this state has been home to a fair number of prehistoric fish, sharks and amphibians, as listed below. (See an interactive map of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in the United States.)

1. Dunkleosteus

Nobu Tamura
A contemporary of Cladoselache, below, Dunkleosteus was one of the largest prehistoric fish in the history of the planet, full-grown adults measuring about 30 feet from head to tail and weighing three to four tons. Sadly, though, the Dunkleosteus species discovered in Ohio were the runts of the litter, only about as big as a tuna! More about Dunkleosteus

2. Cladoselache

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The most famous prehistoric shark to be discovered in Ohio's Cleveland Shale, Cladoselache was a bit of an oddball: this Devonian predator mostly lacked scales, and it didn't possess the "claspers" that modern sharks use to reproduce. Cladoselache's teeth were also smooth and blunt, a clue that it swallowed fish whole rather than chewing them first.

3. Lepospondyls

Nobu Tamura
Ohio is famous for its lepospondyls, prehistoric amphibians characterized by their small size and (often) weird appearance. The dozen or so lepospondyl genera discovered in this state include the tiny, snakelike Phlegethontia and the strange-looking Diploceraspis, which possessed an oversized head shaped like a boomerang. More about prehistoric amphibians

4. Trilobites

The most common invertebrates on earth hundreds of millions of years ago, trilobites were three-segmented arthropods covered by hard shells (which tend to preserve well in the fossil record). The trilobites of Ohio date from the Devonian period, when these ocean-dwellers coexisted with vertebrates like Cladoselache and Dunkleosteus (above).
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