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Coccosteus (Wikimedia Commons)


Coccosteus (Greek for "seed bone"); pronounced coc-SOSS-tee-us


Shallow waters of Europe and North America

Historical Period:

Middle-Late Devonian (390-360 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 8-16 inches long and one pound


Small marine organisms

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Armored head; large, beaked mouth


About Coccosteus:

Yet another of the prehistoric fish that prowled the rivers and oceans of the Devonian period, Coccosteus had a well-armored head and (even more important from a competitive standpoint) a beaked mouth that opened wider than that of other fish, allowing Coccosteus to consume a wider variety of larger prey. Unbelievably, this smallish fish was a close relative of the biggest vertebrate of the Devonian period, the huge (about 30 feet long and 3 to 4 ton) Dunkleosteus.

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