This was a idea given to me by Amber so thanks for that. Does identifying as a prehistoric aquatic predator affect my feelings towards other aquatic animals?
This is certainly a interesting question and one I have to think about a bit but I guess I can try to answer it as honestly as possible while also touching a bit on my personal experiences and my theories of possible behavior of the fish but I dont claim them as fact. All this is guesses at best till science can either back those up or show a entire different picture of the fish.
Now certainly most aquatic animals I also see on the internet are of course during the time of the Dunkleosteus but also after they went extinct. I first start with the creatures that lived during the Devonian Age. This age is divided in several parts: Early Devonian, Middle Devonian and Late Devonian with the latter being the age when the Dunkleosteus lived. Early Devonian and Middle Devonian creatures really dont evoke any kind of reaction since the Dunkleosteus Terrelli wasnt alive back then so it is natural this kintype dont really affect my feelings more then just general human interest but the Late Devonian when this species lived however does evoke some reaction towards any aquatic animal. Being the top predator of that time with only having to fear others of this species means it was almost hunting all creatures it came across in its path. Seeing some fossils seems to attract the instinct of prey despite being dead. I would naturally like to think it is food and seeing other Dunkleosteus Terrelli fossils seems to place me more in the mood of possible rivals that need to be chased away. Memories seem to indicate that there is a possibility that Dunkleosteus Terrelli would have their own hunting grounds most of the time with the risk for the grounds with most prey attracting other hunting Dunkleosteus. While I dont know it is true it doesnt seem out of the question there would be a chance that the strongest Dunkleosteus would have access to the best feeding grounds since they were living on their own and hunting alone. Weaker Dunkleosteus still would have plenty of prey available but needed to cover more ground to have enough where those with the best access to prey would mostly stay in the same area knowing enough would come by to sustain itself. The less energy spend on hunting meant more energy defending itself during tough times without the worry of going hungry. During those times Dunkleosteus as scientists guess when there is not enough prey available would trying to kill each other to avoid going hungry in other words cannibalism. My best guess is during such times the fish with the best grounds would have every opportunity to build up reserves to survive such tough times in order to limit the need of hunting as a way to spare energy. While I dont have scientific evidence for this it doesnt sound to impossible that it could have been a way to survive times where there is not enough prey available so they would not need to hunt all the time as bears do when winter comes and they go into hibernation. Of course they would not go to sleep but the need to find food would have been less important and only needed to hunt from time to time. While it was a big creature that needed to fuel itself, it would not be entirely out the realm of possibilities that it could have been a way for them to survive hard times by building up reserves when prey was not as plenty. Whatever the real reason is seeing other Dunkleosteus fossils kick some kind of defensive instinct into gear and telling me to defeat it before a hungry Dunkleosteus could eat me. Dunkleosteus Terrelli would have been a territorial fish with the need to chase possible rivals away from the best hunting spots that they already claimed. Only during mating seasons it would allowed male Dunkleosteus near it in order to reproduce.
If my memories that are painting the fish as a territorial creature with low tolerance for other Dunkleosteus are correct , I have been really trying to understand that if they were territorial how they could have chased other Dunkleosteus away. Clearly the body was not the tool for that since it made Dunkleosteus not the best swimmer due its size and bright coloring would also not be a great way since it would needed some kind of camouflage to swim undetected to prey so for me it seems more ideal it was more in the same colors as its enviroment to keep hidden. So what is left? Exactly their powerful jaws. For me there is a strong possibility that they used their jaws as a way to defend their hunting spot by snapping them together in a contest to scare the other away. While they are cannibals yes it is more likely that would only happen during times with little prey available but not during times when there is enough prey available for them. Maybe it did happen but then it would be something more uncommon to happen. Snapping jaws to establish territory from rivals can also been seen in modern day fish such as the sarcastic fringehead who flexes and snap their jaws to warn a intruder. While I did find it also was observed with clownfish who chatter with their jaws to make noise to defend its territory. My memories show that Dunkleosteus Terrelli would also snap their jaws to warn a intruder and only attack when a few warnings are ignored. Fights for hunting spots seem to go a similiar way in trying to scare the other away. In the world of Dunkleosteus Terrelli it seems those with the more powerful jaws were the ones who got the best hunting spots. It was all about showing off their strength of their jaws to establish the dominant fish. Those who had the strongest jaws were also the rare ones who would reach a old age. Most would live mostly till adulthood but died mostly long before they would reach a old age. Only a rare few would reach such a age. As for their armored head well that is defense enough against other Dunkleosteus.
So what about hunting? Well how they hunted is well known by creating a vacuum that sucked the prey in and spit out the parts that they couldnt digest but what about their senses? I couldnt really find anything about that so here again it is only guesses but no facts. The fish if my memories are correct on this seemed not to have the best eyesight in the ocean. It seems rather to have a stronger sense of smell but their eyesight was at least enough to identify their prey and identify potential threats. It also seems they were not the most intelligent fish and lived more in a world that was driven by instinct. They didnt really had to be the smartest since the Terrelli was big enough that other predators aside their own didnt pose much of a risk since they were the apex predator. They were really evolved enough to do their job. As I mentioned before they are not the best swimmers out there but they didnt need to flee for everything due to their big size. They were fast enough to approach prey and eat them before they could notice them and to get away from other Dunkleosteus. They did well for the time they were the apex predator.
Now for the question how does this affect my feelings towards other aquatic creatures. Well I already covered the bit for the Devonian but what about the animals that came later such as marine reptiles and stuff? Honestly it doenst really affect how I view the animals as a human but once the mental shifts kick in well then it seems other predators are more a threat. It seems somehow the marine reptiles that are as big as the fish are a potential threat. The smaller creatures are really potential prey. I grow more nervous around the bigger predators and would rather go away then seek a fight against them if they were alive. To some degree it seems to know when to go away, try to scare others away or know it is a potential prey. It also has the same reaction to modern day aquatic animals. Mentally it seems to avoid things that are bigger then itself, scare away those big enough and see small things as prey. But in the end it was not really alive during those times and now so I dont know how it would really react with them. Bigger chance they would have been outcompeted by faster predators but the mental instinct is still interesting enough to note. Not much to note but a interesting question nevertheless.