Welding in the Field Museum metal shop. Photo credit Karen Bean.

In 2008, I had an opportunity to help Mark Westneat Ph.D with construction of a Biomechanical model of a Dunkelosteous, a prehistoric fish, to test its bite strength. The model was filmed for an episode of History Channel’s series “Evolve”. We had a three-minute segment in the “Jaws and Claws” episode. We smashed all kinds of stuff in the jaws, and had a generally good time. The model is currently on display with the Field Museum’s exhibition, Biomechanics: The Machine Inside.

The now extinct creature is a favorite of science illustrators thanks to its nightmarish proportions.

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We started with Dr Westneat’s breakdown of the specimen.

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Dr. Westneats breakdown

Then I went and did some study of the actual fossil. If you want to do your own research, the skull can be found in the Evolving Planet exhibit.

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Told you it was the stuff of nightmares.

Then, the actual head had to be translated and scaled to convert to a functioning model.

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From there, I created a small mock-up to verify the mechanical aspects would work.

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Then, it was on to the fun part. Here are some shots of the build. It had to be on a really solid base.





Many hours and scorch-marks later we had a working replica!



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