Scientists have discovered this Tuesday a new fossil of the world’s largest sea scorpions. The remains of the long extinct creature was found in a meteor crater in Iowa.
Dating from about 450 million years back, the creature used to roam the depths of the ocean (back when Iowa wasn’t just land). It was called Pentecopterus decorahensis and according to the analyses, it is 10 million years older than its found predecessors. At 5.5 feet long, the human-sized scorpion is one of the biggest found yet.
The study author said that the sea scorpion was the world’s first big predator. The researchers believe that this probably wasn’t the first version of the scorpion that joined the oceans in prehistoric times. The complexity of the frightening creature’s body pushes the origin of sea scorpions back even further. The group of creatures was called eurypterids and they are the extinct relatives of modern-day arachnids.
The exoskeleton of the creature was preserved very nicely, so the scientists were able to peel off the rock debris right from its body and examine it under the microscope. Determining how the animal moved came with no difficulties as well.
The scorpion is rather big, at over a meter and a half in length, and is a bit different than the fossils that were found until now. They have an unusual body, and the legs it used for swimming has the shape of a paddle. The shape of the head is also strangely different than that of its predecessors.
Based on its gigantic front arms and muscular body covered by long spines, this sea scorpion is thought to be a ferocious predator that once terrorized the seas. The team of scientists that analyzed the fossil believe that the creature’s rear legs were covered in tiny hairs that would act as some sort of radar that was sensing the water currents.
Photo credits: wikipedia