This is a video of a Dunkleosteus [big placoderm fish] eating a shark.
The oldest pregnant mum
Devonian fossilized fish contains an embryo.
Researchers in Australia have uncovered the oldest record of live birth — viviparity — in any vertebrate (see page 650). The discovery of embryos in fossils of placoderms (ancient, armoured, jawed fish) indicates that vertebrates have been copulating and giving birth to live young for at least 380 million years.
“We’ve discovered the world’s oldest [pregnant] mother,” says palaeontologist John Long at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, who led the study. Previously, the earliest records of viviparity were from marine reptiles from the Jurassic period that date back to around 180 million years ago, he says.
The fossils are from the Gogo Formation, a one-time coral reef in northwest Australia that is renowned for its remarkably well-preserved fish from the Devonian period, some 380 million years ago. The region is tectonically stable, so specimens have been spared the movements of Earth’s plates that often distort fossils. “Gogo fish are three-dimensional, uncrushed, perfect specimens — as if they died yesterday,” says Long. Soft tissues, including muscle and nerve structures, have been reported in Gogo specimens (K. Trinajstic et al. Biol. Lett. 3, 197–200; 2007).
The researchers identified a single embryo in a new Gogo fish genus, and three embryos in a previously described specimen. “When you find a little fish inside a big fish, you tend to think it was dinner,” Long says. But the researchers concluded that the bones were those of embryos, not ingested remains, because they were not crushed or etched by digestive acids. What nailed it, according to Long, was the identification of an umbilical structure and a putative yolk sac.
Palaeontologists will be excited but not completely surprised by the findings, because many suspected that some placoderms fertilized internally. The males of a sub-group of placoderms, called ptyctodontids, have clasper-like appendages dangling from their pelvic fins — these are reminiscent of the claspers of modern sharks that are used to inseminate females.
See also here.
Helicoprion was a shark-like fish that arose in the oceans of the late Carboniferous 280 million years ago, and eventually went extinct during the early Triassic some 225 million years ago: here.