Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Claw of a Gigantic Sea Scorpion Found

Man sized sea scorpion claw found.

The immense fossilised claw of a 2.5m-long (8ft) sea scorpion has been described by European researchers.

The 390-million-year-old specimen was found in a German quarry, the journal Biology Letters reports.

Eurypterids, otherwise known as sea scorpions, evolved about 500 million years ago and died out about 250 million later.

Turns out, ancient arthropods (think crabs, spiders, centipedes, insects) are fascinating. The largest today is the Japanese spider crab, which can have a leg span of up to four meters, but the body itself is only about 37cm. Compared to what was running around in the Devonian, that's peanuts.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, before the Mesozoic and the rise of the dinosaurs, the high levels of oxygen in the air allowed arthropods to grow to sizes that would scare the crap straight out of you. Since they don't have proper lungs like pretty much anything in the phylum chordata, the size that insects, crustaceans, arachnids etc can grow to is directly proportional to the amount of oxygen in the air. Which meant that you'd have to put up with Arthropleura, a three meter long millipede.

Here's a video of one being impaled! Also includes meter long dragonflies and a spider the size of your head.

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