Just like a model airplane kit,
Friedman et al. 2010 laid out the parts for the giant toothless Late Cretaceous Niobrara fish, Bonnerichthys gladius (Fig. 1).
The authors considered this big fish
to be a plankton eater from the get-go. The first sentence in their paper reads, “The largest vertebrates—fossil or living—are marine suspension feeders.” Bonnerichthys does have a big mouth and no teeth.
Putting the parts back together
using DGS techniques (Fig. 2) Bonnerichthys took on the appearance of the extant arowana (Osteoglossum, Fig. 2 ghosted), a large, extant, tropical fish. Adapted to hunting at the surface, these ‘bony tongues’ are capable of leaving the water to catch prey on branches that overhang slow-moving rivers.
indicates Bonnerichthys was a predator with its eyes on prey above the surface of the water, contra Friedman et al. 2010. Osteoglossum was not mentioned in their text, so this may be another case of taxon exclusion.
The post-crania of Bonnerichthys
was not presented, but should be distinct from Pachycormus when found.
Friedman M, Shimada K, Martin LD, Everhart MJ, Liston JJ, Maltese A and Triebold M 2010. 100-million-year dynasty of giant planktivorous bony fishes in the Mesozoic seas. Science 327(5968):990-993.