Fossil range: Late Devonian - Early Carboniferous
Steth pair1
A pair of Stethacanthus altonensis
Scientific classification








  • S. altonensis
  • S. productus
  • S. praecursor
  • S. mirabilis
  • S. resistens
  • S. thomasi
Stethacanthyus tooth RU1

Stethacanthus sp. tooth with a multiple cusped crown with a large, flat based root. Upper Carboniferous (295 MYA); Kasimov Fm, Shcholkovo, Russia

Stethacanthus ("Breast spine") is an extinct genus of shark which lived in the Late Devonian and Early Carboniferous epochs, around 360 million years ago. The creature was almost one meter long. It probably hunted smaller creatures such as small fish. Fossils have been found in Europe and North America.



Stethacanthus was around 70 centimeters (2.3 ft) long, and in many respects, hada 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.[1] Some scientists think the crest may have had a function in courtship; others think it may have been used for self defense.


  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 27. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
Mantell's Iguanodon restoration

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