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Temporal range: Lochkovian-Eifelian
~416–386 Ma
Pteraspis rostrata restoration.jpg
Restoration of P. rostrata
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Infraphylum: Agnatha
Class: Pteraspidomorphi
Subclass: Heterostraci
Order: Pteraspidiformes
Family: Pteraspididae
Genus: Pteraspis
Kner, 1847
Type species
Cephalaspis rostrata
Agassiz, 1835
  • P. rostrata (Agassiz, 1835)
  • P. dixoni (White, 1938)
  • P. mitchelli (Powrie, 1864)

Pteraspis (from Greek: πτερόν pteron 'wing' or 'fin' and Greek: ἀσπίς aspís 'shield') is an extinct genus of pteraspidid heterostracan agnathan vertebrate that lived from the Lochkovian to Eifelian epochs of the Devonian period in what is now Brazil (Eifelian Maecuru Formation), Britain (Lochkovian Ditton Group), Ukraine (Lochkovian Ivane Suite, Pragian Babin Sandstone) and Belgium.[citation needed]


Fossil of P. rostrata
Fossil of P. rostrata
Reconstruction of Pteraspis, Estonian Museum of Natural History
Reconstruction of Pteraspis, Estonian Museum of Natural History

Like other heterostracan fishes, Pteraspis had a protective armored plating covering the front of its body. Though lacking fins other than its lobed tail, it is thought to have been a good swimmer thanks to stiff, wing-like protrusions derived from the armoured plates over its gills. This, along with the horn-like rostrum, made Pteraspis very streamlined in shape; a perfect quality for a good swimmer. Pteraspis also had some stiff spikes on its back, possibly an additional form of protection against predators. It is thought to have fed from shoals of plankton just under the ocean surface,[1] and is found in association with marine fossils.[2][3]

Pteraspis grew to an estimated length of 20 centimetres (7.9 in).


  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 23. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
  2. ^ Lankester, E. R. (1870). "I.—On a New Cephalaspis Discovered in America, etc". Geological Magazine. 7 (75): 397–399. doi:10.1017/S0016756800209485.
  3. ^ White, E. I. (1938). "New Pteraspids from South Wales". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. 94 (1–4): 85–116. doi:10.1144/GSL.JGS.1938.094.01-04.05.