This image is a combination of a computer generated image issued by the University of Bristol in England released on Tuesday Nov. 20, 2007 showing a size comparison between a human an ancient sea scorpion (on the left). A claw fossil found (on the right) in Germany indicates the ancient sea scorpion was once 2.5 metres (8 feet) long, making it the biggest bug ever known to have existed. Image Credit: University of Bristol - Oblate Spheroid (combined images found at The Royal Society website)
8 Foot Long Scorpion Found To Live In The Sea
BUGS, BUGS, BUGS! Ancient life here on the Oblate Spheroid was quite a different proposition.
In a press release from The Royal Society, London, scientists excavating a site in Germany have uncovered a fossil that comes from a scorpion that lived in the oceans.
The fossil was of a claw that is believed to have once belonged to a scorpion that measured approximately eight feet long. The scientists believe that given the oxygen levels that were prevalent here on Earth 390 million years ago, all insects were much larger.
If human life had been here at this time, bugs would think that WE were the pests and that they needed to control us. Terminix would have a decidedly different mission statement.
This item from The Royal Society, London – Science News -
Giant scorpion claw discovered
Press Release - The Royal Society, London - 21 Nov 2007
Nowadays arthropods such as spiders and crabs are considered to be small animals but the discovery of a 390 million year old giant fossil claw, published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, shows that they were much bigger than previously thought.
The claw - found in Germany from a sea scorpion (eurypterid) Jaekelopterus rhananine - is 46cm long. This would mean that the scorpion's body was 2.5 metres long making it the largest arthropod ever to have evolved.
Dr Simon Braddy, University of Bristol 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.
Arthropods have segmented bodies, jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton for example insects, spiders and crabs. Gigantism normally occurs because of high oxygen levels in the atmosphere but it can also result from other factors such as responses to predators, courtship behaviours and competition.
Dr Braddy continues: "There is no simple single explanation. 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."
This excerpted and edited from Associated Press via Yahoo! –
Scientists find fossil of enormous bug
By THOMAS WAGNER, London, Associated Press Writer – 11-21-2007 – 5:00 AM PT
The study, published online Tuesday in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, means that before this sea scorpion became extinct it was much longer than today's average man is tall.
Prof. Jeorg W. Schneider, a paleontologist at Freiberg Mining Academy in southeastern Germany, said the study provides valuable new information about "the last of the giant scorpions."
Schneider, who was not involved in the study, said these scorpions "were dominant for millions of years because they didn't have natural enemies. Eventually they were wiped out by large fish with jaws and teeth."
Braddy's partner paleontologist Markus Poschmann found the claw fossil several years ago in a quarry near Prum, Germany, that probably had once been an ancient estuary or swamp.
"I was loosening pieces of rock with a hammer and chisel when I suddenly realized 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," said Poschmann, another author of the study.
"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 stabilize it," he said.
Eurypterids, or ancient sea scorpions, are believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of today's scorpions and possibly all arachnids, a class of joint-legged, invertebrate animals, including spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks.
Braddy said the sea scorpions also were cannibals that fought and ate one other, so it helped to be as big as they could be.
"The competition between this scorpion and its prey was probably like a nuclear standoff, an effort to have the biggest weapon," he said. "Hundreds of millions of years ago, these sea scorpions had the upper hand over vertebrates — backboned animals like ourselves."
But the next time you swat a fly, or squish a spider at home, Braddy said, try to "think about the insects that lived long ago. You wouldn't want to swat one of those."
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