Human-sized prehistoric scorpions discovered, too big for Starship Troopers

Human-sized prehistoric scorpions discovered, too big for Starship Troopers

Fossilized remains of a prehistoric sea scorpion were found in Iowa.

Perhaps nature had anger management issues during our primordial past because it seems that its imagination has run dry on creating the kind of menacing creatures that once existed. For instance, a nearly human-sized sea scorpion that stalked the sea floor 460 million years ago.

Evolutionary biologists recently discovered fossilized remains of such a creature in Iowa. The scorpion and its Greek influenced descriptive, Pentecopterus decorahensis, was detailed in a published article in BMC Evolutionary Biology on Monday. The Paleozoic predator is 10 million years older than other related species of its era and estimated at 5.5 feet long, it’s also one of the largest.

Lead researcher and author James Lamsdell of Yale University said, “This is the first real big predator.”

But upon further study of its anatomy, Pentecopterus is also out of place. Lamdell said in a statement, “The new species is incredibly bizarre. The shape of the paddle – the leg which it would use to swim – is unique, as is the shape of the head. It’s also big – over a meter and a half long.”  Hence, its Greek antecedent named after a warship, the penteconter, which the scorpion loosely resembles in body shape.

Due to its physiology, scientists have made an educated guess that it was a hunter. Its front arms were covered in long spines resembling the ones found on extant horseshoe crabs. Additionally, the monster had legs on its rear, which were covered in tiny hairs for feeling around on the sea floor.

Lamsdell also noted that its exoskeleton was durable and well-preserved, so much so that scientists just peeled them off rocks to study under the microscope. Lamsdell adds, “At times it seems like you are studying the shed skin of a modern animal,” he said, “an incredibly exciting opportunity for any paleontologist.”

Source: Portland Press Herald


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