Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Giant Fossil Sea Scorpion Bigger Than Man

Date:
November 21, 2007
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
The discovery of a giant fossilized claw from an ancient sea scorpion indicates that when alive it would have been about two and a half meters long, much taller than the average man. This find, from rocks 390 million years old, suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought.

Mock up of fossil sea scorpion, compared to man.
Credit: Simon Powell

The discovery of a giant fossilised claw from an ancient sea scorpion indicates that when alive it would have been about two and a half meters long, much taller than the average man.

This find, from rocks 390 million years old, suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought.

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.'

The claw was discovered by one of Dr Braddy's co-authors*, Markus Poschmann, in a quarry near Prüm in Germany.

Poschmann described finding the fossil: "I was loosening pieces of rock with a hammer and chisel when I suddenly realised there was a dark patch of organic matter on a freshly removed slab. After some cleaning I could identify this as a small part of a large claw. Although I did not know if it was more complete or not, I decided to try and get it out. The pieces had to be cleaned separately, dried, and then glued back together. It was then put into a white plaster jacket to stabilise it."

The claw is from a sea scorpion (eurypterid) Jaekelopterus rhenaniae that lived between 460 and 255 million years ago. It is 46 centimetres long, indicating that the sea scorpion to which it belonged was around 2.5 metres (8 feet) long -- almost half a metre longer than previous estimates for these arthropods and the largest one ever to have evolved.

Eurypterids are believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of scorpions and possibly all arachnids.

Some geologists believe that giant arthropods evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others, that they evolved in an 'arms race' alongside their likely prey, the early armoured fish.

'There is no simple single explanation', explains Braddy. 'It is more likely that some ancient arthropods were big because there was little competition from the vertebrates, as we see today. If the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere suddenly increased, it doesn't mean all the bugs would get bigger.'

*The research is published online in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Giant Fossil Sea Scorpion Bigger Than Man." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120195710.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2007, November 21). Giant Fossil Sea Scorpion Bigger Than Man. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120195710.htm
University of Bristol. "Giant Fossil Sea Scorpion Bigger Than Man." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120195710.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

AP (July 24, 2014) — The U.S. Mint has re-designed the John F. Kennedy half dollar coin to better match the former president's likeness. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) — Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins