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 April 20, 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 April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) — Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) — Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Newsy (Apr. 12, 2014) — Archeologists have found many fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits, including those of saber-tooth tigers and mammoths. Video provided by Newsy
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