Temporal range: 385–320Ma Late Devonian to Early Carboniferous
Stethacanthus was around 70 centimetres (2.3 ft) long, and in many respects, had a typical shark-like appearance. However, it is best known for its unusually shaped dorsal fin, which resembled an anvil or ironing board. Small spikes (enlarged versions of the dermal denticles commonly covering shark skin) covered this crest, and the shark's head as well. The crest may have played a role in mating rituals, clamp to the belly of larger marine animals, or used to frighten potential predators.
In popular culture
- In the 2003 TV documentary Sea Monsters, a spin-off from the 1999 series Walking with Dinosaurs, a Stethacanthus was briefly shown circling a large shark cage before being scared away by a much larger Dunkleosteus. It reappeared in the 2005 prequel series Walking With Monsters, chasing a Hynerpeton, only to be eaten by a Hyneria.
- Stethacanthus was featured in Paleoworld, Episode 5 as the first hunting shark, yet prey for predators like the Rhizodus.
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