A herring in the wolf´s clothing

Today´s blogpost features another fish skull, this time a much smaller but yet pretty impressive one, which nearly looks like a miniature version of the giant cretaceous Xiphactinus.


Dorab wolf-herring (Chirocentrus dorab) skull, Museum Schloss Rosenstein, Stuttgart

It belongs to a dorab wolf hering (Chirocentrus dorab), a member of the Clupeiformes, what makes it a close relative of herrings, anchovies and sardines. Quite in contrast to those usually filter-feeding planctivores, wolf herrings are voracious predators with huge gaping jaws and enormous teeth. Iy you look at the skull you can see not only the very large teeth in the lower jaw, but also a pair of nearly spear-like teeth in the middle of the upper jaw.


There are only two species of wolf herring, the dorab wolf herring and the whitefin wolf herring Chirocenturs nudus.

Except for the size, which doesn´t exceed a metre, the head and body shape of wolf herrings is really suprisingly reminiscent to Xiphactinus.


Dorab wolf herring, photo from Wikipedia

Here is a photo of „Mildred“, a gigantic Xiphactinus audax specimen of 5,6 m, which was kindly provided by Anthony Maltese (thanks again!).


Xiphactinus audax, photo by Anthony Maltese

Of course there are various differences, but the similarities of the overall body shape and the functional anatomy of the skull and jaws are still surprising. Here is another photo of Mildred´s giant skull, which shows the same combination of a very steep upper jaw combined with a massive mandible and big teeth:

Xiphactinus audax skull, photo by Anthony Maltese

Xiphactinus audax skull, photo by Anthony Maltese


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