The scissor-tooth shark

Edestus is a genus of eugeneodontid holocephalids that lived throughout the world’s oceans from the Late Devonian to the late Carboniferous. Edestus is known as the scissor-tooth shark because of its teeth that grew in curved brackets and never shed.

Family: †Edestidae 

Genus: †Edestus

Species: †giganteus, heinrichi, mirus, minor, vorax  


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

Order– Eugeneodontida

Family– †Edestidae

Common Name– Scissor-Tooth

Genus– †Edestus

Species– † giganteus, heinrichi, mirus, minor, vorax  

Status: EXTINCT. Edestus lived from late Devonian to the late Carboniferous periods; about 300 million years ago. It was first discovered in the mid-nineteenth century and was eventually given the name Edestus by Joseph Leidy in 1855.

Average Size and Length: It is estimated based on fossil records of teeth Edestus may have reached a length of 20 feet.

Average Weight: It is estimated Edestus could reach a weight of 2 tons.

Teeth and Jaw: Edestus grew teeth in curved brackets and did not shed the teeth as they became worn. Only a single row of teeth occurred in each jaw, so the mouth would have resembled a monstrous pair of scissors. The degree of curvature in the teeth brackets, along with size, are distinct in each species. The teeth of Edestus were sharp and serrated.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: Worldwide

Diet: Scientists are still trying to figure out how Edestus ate or even what it ate. Little can be determined from its fossils because the only thing they have ever found was this shark’s teeth, but the teeth do suggest that it was carnivorous. 

According to Wayne M. Itano of the Natural History Museum of the University of Colorado et al. Itano examined specimens of Edestus from the Late Carboniferous deposits of Texas and discovered wear patterns that suggest that Edestus might have hunted by using its bizarre array of teeth to vertically thrash its prey, creating slashing wounds, incapacitating and then swallowing its prey. Such a method of predation would prove unique and as-yet-unknown elsewhere in the animal kingdom if correct. Examination of the wear marks of the specimens in Itano’s study also suggest that Edestus might have preyed on tough-skinned animals, though what kind remains unknown (Itano, 2015).

Aesthetic Identification: Scientists can only speculate what Edestus looked like.

Biology and Reproduction: Little is known about the biology and reproduction of Edestus.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown

Speed: Unknown