Due to its heavily armoured nature, Dunkleosteus was likely a relatively slow, but powerful, swimmer. It is thought to have dwelled in diverse zones of inshore waters. Fossilization tends to have preserved only the especially armoured frontal sections of specimens, and thus it is uncertain what exactly the hind sections of this ancient fish were like. As such, the reconstructions of the hindquarters are often based on smaller arthrodires, such as Coccosteus, that had hind sections preserved.
The most famous specimens of Dunkleosteus are displayed at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Others are displayed at the American Museum of Natural History and in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, Queensland.
Instead of teeth, Dunkleosteus possessed two pairs of sharp bony plates which formed a beak-like structure. After studying a biomechanical model of the fish's jaws, scientists at the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago concluded that Dunkleosteus had the second most powerful bite of any fish (the giant Megalodon being the strongest). Dunkleosteus could concentrate a pressure of up to 8,000 pounds per square inch (55 MPa) at the tip of its mouth, placing Dunkleosteus in the same league as Tyrannosaurus rex and modern crocodiles as having the most powerful known bite.
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