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Diplacanthus is an extinct species of acanthodian shark from early Devonian Scotland, approximately 385 million years ago. These prehistoric sharks are evolutionarily significant being one of the first jawed vertebrate species in natural history. The genus Diplacanthus was at the dawn of the shark lineage, being one of the fiercest acanthodians whose ancestors would include Otodus, the Great White and the famed Megalodon. Although smaller than Megalodon teeth, Diplacanthus were feared predators of the Devonian era, the so called “Age of Fishes” when fish dominated the seas and plants started to colonise the land. Like modern sharks they had a streamlined body, paired fins, and a strongly upturned tail; stout, largely immovable bony spines supporting all the fins except the tail. Fossilized spines and scales are often all that remains of these sharks in ancient sedimentary rocks, the complete specimens below being astonishingly rare. Diplacanthus had a cartilaginous skeleton which fossilises significantly less than bone. It is for this same reason megalodon teeth are so common but megalodon vertebrae fossils are almost non-existent. Diplacanthus is found in the fossil record in both Lower Old Red Sandstone and Middle Old Red Sandstone assemblages in Scotland. This geological landscape was once part of the Orcadian Basin, a huge complex of lakes stretching hundreds of miles where Diplacanthus could swim and hunt.
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