© 2020 by Paleo Leather - Sculpture Studio

  • J.V. Becker

Dunkleosteus (& Ammonite)

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

The Devonian Sea Monster

Late Devonian 358-382 mya

Ammonite makes a narrow escape from a deadly bite...

This darned Dunkleosteus: An extremely challenging project for which little to no evidence of reference materials are easily found ...in some instances not without delving into science documents hidden in online archives that seem to be over a hundred years old! This fish was so tough (aside from its heavy plated armor) that I needed to find its relatives with similar fossils of a much older age still.... and then piece all of it together into a coherent fish that made sense..


Veg tanned leather and suede over topographical wood base

Dunkleosteus is a large placoderm; a bony fish from the Devonian period of which has no current record for a full length fossil... because it's incredibly old and difficult to find any evidence of soft tissue aside from that darn armored head that everyone loves and finds so scary- me included. I love dunkle and admittedly I'd wanted to construct one for years but thought I couldn't because of just this reason. But this crazy fish is worth it; in fact, I think it's my favorite leather-designed creature now after how hard it was to construct and finally getting to really look at the whole thing in my own hands for the first time.


This model is speculated from the few found fossils of smaller placoderms in nearby regions with similar skulls discovered in relation to dunkleosteus. It was really the only option that made any sense without making something entirely up, which I didn't want to do at all. Getting these things as scientifically accurate as possible is important since the people who also love these animals want to see the same thing as I do; a well-designed model that's based on science and what we know so far.


The ammonite is recreated in its entirety (it's tentacles are a whole different series of questions; how many they had and whether they had grabbing arms or not) and it represents an example of small prey -as fish like dunkleosteus could easily crush through shellfish such as these in the early oceans before regurgitating undigestable parts like the shells, themselves.


*It should be noted that in my attempt to mount the ammonite in a way I thought looked nice and so that the peg could hold it up easily, it is apparently very upside-down as my fellow paleoartists explained to me. So... there's that. Maybe in the confusion of the attack, it flipped itself temporarily over- so that's my poor excuse.


  • puzzle of hand-cut leather phase into a revised vector version

  • ammonite process of cutting and pre-stitching


  • second-draft dunkleosteus in chipboard

  • picking out color templates for the final-draft

  • final stitching and pre-assembly of chipboard version


we <3 dunkle

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