Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Scientists Find Fossil of Enormous Bug


What a cutie!

Of course, as I'm sure you all know, a *scorpion-like creature* doesn't approach even the usual misnomer of *bug.* I mean, come ON! Eight legs = not an insect. Orf! And only true bugs are bugs, among the real insects.

But hey. Let's not split hairs - uh, antennae? How about, let's just enjoy this wonder for who it is. A rose by any other name...


[Click the link and check out the pic!]

Scientists Find Fossil of Enormous Bug

By THOMAS WAGNER, AP Tue Nov 20, 11:04 PM EST

This was a bug you couldn't swat and definitely couldn't step on. British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's three authors.

"This is an amazing discovery," he said Tuesday.

"We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies. But we never realized until now just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were," he said.

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"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.

[Ed. note: Hmmm. This sounds bassackward to me. At the Fossil Farm, we don't do lab work while out in the field - wrong environment, and field time is far more limited than lab time. Plus, you use the plaster jacket to stabilize the delicate, disarticulated, crumbling, etc. pieces in order to take them to the lab to be cleaned and glued. I'm guessing this is a reporter's error.]

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 fossil was from a Jaekelopterus Rhenaniae, a kind of scorpion that lived only in Germany for about 10 million years, about 400 million years ago.

He said some geologists believe that gigantic sea scorpions evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others suspect they evolved in an "arms race" alongside their likely prey, fish that had armor on their outer bodies.

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.

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pepektheassassin said...

"they were also cannibals who fought and ate each other..."

Probably explains why they're all gone....a good lesson for us all!

pepektheassassin said...

Interesting stuff, btw. Thanks for sharing. And Happy THanksgiving!

k said...

Yes, I liked that bit too. Certainly, it seems counterproductive if one wishes one's species to continue, yes?

When I was growing up, we were taught that only man and rats were cannibals. As it turns out, that's entirely untrue. Critters from bugs to other mammals - including primates - are documented cannibals.

Um. Not turkeys however.

I think.

John P. McCann said...

Don't forget postal workers also turn cannibalistic if denied overtime.