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Temporal range: Carboniferous 330–300 Ma
Rhizodus hibberti.JPG
Fossil tooth of Rhizodus hibberti
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sarcopterygii
Clade: Tetrapodomorpha
Order: Rhizodontida
Family: Rhizodontidae
Genus: Rhizodus
Owen, 1840
Species: R. hibberti
Binomial name
Rhizodus hibberti
Owen, 1840

Rhizodus (root tooth) is an extinct genus of rhizodont, a branch of the Sarcopterygii, the bony vertebrate clade that also includes tetrapods.



The most notable characteristics of Rhizodus, compared to other giant lobe-fins such as Barameda, were the two 22 centimetres (8.7 in) fangs located near the front of its jaws,[1] followed by other teeth scaling downwards in size. Rhizodus was a giant apex predator that resided in freshwater lakes, river systems and large swamps in the entire Carboniferous period, feeding on small to medium-sized amphibians, using its teeth to kill prey and rip it into digestible sizes, rather than swallowing prey whole like other, smaller-toothed sarcopterygians.[2]

Fossil skin imprints show that Rhizodus had large, plate-like scales, similar to those found on modern day arapaima.[3]


Rhizodus' diet includes medium sized fish and temnospondyls. It has been proposed that Rhizodus may have lunged at terrestrial, shorebound prey, just like a modern day crocodile.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Rhizodus is featured in the forty-third episode of River Monsters, labelled "Prehistoric Terror". Host Jeremy Wade labels it as "the ultimate river monster" during his investigation due to its immense size, power and possible ferocity due to its ability to tear flesh and crush bone.[5]