390 million year old sea scorpion discovered


This video is about an eurypterid.

From British daily The Guardian:

Relax, it died 390m years ago – huge scorpion find points to existence of giant spiders

· Claw find in quarry makes scientists think again
· Arthropods may have been bigger than thought

* Steven Morris

* Wednesday November 21 2007

It is enough to give people with arachnophobia a large dose of the heebie-jeebies. Scientists have discovered the fossilised claw of a sea scorpion that suggests the giant scorpions, spiders and crabs that once crawled around the world were even bigger than previously thought.

Found in a German quarry, the claw is 46cm (18ins) long, suggesting the sea scorpion was 2.5m (8ft) long – almost two feet longer that it was previously thought the aquatic creatures grew to. Because land-based scorpions and spiders are believed to have descended from the sea scorpion, scientist believe the discovery means that they also may have been even bigger than had been believed.

Dr Simon Braddy from the department of earth sciences at the University of Bristol, co-author of an article about the find, said: “This is an amazing discovery. We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies, but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were. I think the claws on this creature would have been powerful enough to rip someone to shreds.” Fortunately for mankind, humans were not on the scene until millions of years later.

The claw was found by scientist Markus Poschmann in rocks 390m years old at a quarry near Prüm in Germany. The research is published online in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters.

The name of the fossil sea scorpion is Jaekelopterus rhenaniae. See also here. And here. And here.

First Tool Users Were Sea Scorpions? Here.

A missing link in the evolution of the front claw of living scorpions and horseshoe crabs was identified with the discovery of a 390 million-year-old fossil by researchers at Yale and the University of Bonn, Germany: here. And here.

Yeti crab: here.

Antarctic Hot Springs Yields Ghostly New Species. A “Yeti” crab, seven-legged seastar and a pale octopus discovered around the vent are reshaping theories on marine life: here.

Giant insects disappeared thanks to falling oxygen levels and agile birds: here.

5 thoughts on “390 million year old sea scorpion discovered

  1. Prehistoric bug back home
    Mount Allison donates fossil to Joggins centre

    By TOM McCOAG Amherst Bureau
    Thu. Apr 3 – 1:34 PM

    Donald Agnew, a research assistant with the Joggins Fossil Institute, points out the tracks of an Arthropleura, a giant relative of the modern-day sow bug. The 300-million-year-old tracks were donated to the Joggins Fossil Centre by Mount Allison University on Wednesday. (TOM McCOAG / Amherst Bureau)

    SACKVILLE, N.B. — A 300-million-year-old fossil taken from the Joggins fossil cliffs more than 40 years ago found its way home Wednesday.

    “We’ve been working on this for 2½ years,” Donald Agnew, a research assistant with the Joggins Fossil Institute, said as he watched workers load the fragile fossil onto a truck that was to take it from Mount Allison University to the new Joggins Fossil Centre.

    “It’s great to have these Arthropleura trackways coming to the (centre).”

    Mr. Agnew said the fossil is relatively rare.

    “It’s the only piece of the original trackway that still exists. It will help us tell the story about the early ecosystem that existed in Joggins during the Carboniferous period. That’s the period when terrestrial life emerged from the water.”

    Paleontologists and geologists have been studying the cliffs for years and many have nicknamed them the Coal Age Galapagos because of the large number of diversified fossils that have been discovered there since the mid-1800s.

    The discoveries at Joggins have played a major role in our understanding of geology and paleontology and have been cited in many scientific papers, including Charles Darwin’s theory on evolution.

    The trackways, donated by Mount A to the centre, are encased in a two-tonne chunk of sandstone measuring 2.3 metres by one metre. They were found in 1964 in Joggins by Laing Ferguson, the former head of Mount Allison’s geology department.

    The Arthropleura was one of the largest creatures to live in the swampy carboniferous forests that existed in Joggins 300 million years ago. It was nearly two metres long and resembled a large, heavily armoured millipede. It may have had as many as 30 pairs of legs that left bulldozer- or tank-like tracks in the mud. Its closest living relative today is the small sowbug that people find in rotting logs.

    Visitors to the Joggins fossil cliffs today can see similar trackways on the beach and in the cliffs.

    Casts made from Mr. Ferguson’s find hang at the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro and in the Avard building at Mount Allison. While the replicas have been on display for years, the original has been packed in straw in a crate in the basement of Mount Allison’s science building since 1967.

    “Someone took off the top of the crate two years ago but discovered that the tracks faced the wall,” Jeff Ollerhead, Mount Allison’s dean of science, said Wednesday. “It hasn’t been touched since, so the people here today are the first people in more than 40 years to get a look at the trackways.”

    The university decided to donate the fossil to the new centre because it felt it would be more appreciated there than in the university’s basement.

    “We would hope that people visiting the centre would take the opportunity to look at this important fossil,” Mr. Ollerhead said.

    “We would also hope that researchers would take another look at it. The science (of geology and paleontology) has evolved a lot since it was first found. It would be good to have a new set of eyes examine it.”

    Scientists will get that opportunity, Mr. Agnew said. In addition, the fossil will be properly mounted so it can be put on display in the centre’s main lobby.

    “We don’t think it will be ready by our opening on April 22, but it will be ready in time for this year’s tourist season,” he added.

    The new centre is the focal point of a community effort to have the world-famous cliffs declared a UNESCO world heritage site. UNESCO is expected to make a decision when it meets in Quebec in July.

    ( tmccoag@herald.ca)

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