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Man Sized Sea Scorpion Fossil Found 216

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the try-saying-that-four-time-frantic dept.
hereisnowhy writes "A giant fossilized claw discovered in Germany belonged to an ancient sea scorpion that was much bigger than the average man, an international team of geologists and archaeologists reported Tuesday. In a report in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, the team said the claw indicates that sea scorpion Jaekelopterus rhenania was almost 2.5 meters long, making it the largest arthropod — an animal with a segmented body, jointed limbs and a hard exoskeleton — ever found. In the report, the authors said the scorpion exceeds previous size records for arthropods by almost half a meter."
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Man Sized Sea Scorpion Fossil Found

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  • Amazing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by downix (84795) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:23AM (#21434323) Homepage
    Who says the age of giants was only during the dinosaur era? It appears more and more that nature gets into these size races, then massive killing off, then start over. I wonder how long before we're standing at over 15 feet ourselves?
  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:27AM (#21434373)
    Nobody does. It's believed that the last ice age killed off many larger versions of creatures that are very similar to what we have today. Think pony:horse comparisons, but where our modern day horses were considered the "ponys".
  • Arthur Clarcke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ploum (632141) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:29AM (#21434391) Homepage
    Mmm, am I the only one for which giant sea scorpions sounds more like songs of distant earth than rock music ?
    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Songs_of_Distant_Earth [wikipedia.org] )
  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:53AM (#21434663) Homepage
    It's pretty dubious. You can't extrapolate the size of the animal from the size of a claw. Many arthropods today-- lobsters, fiddler crabs, stone crabs-- have an enlarged claw. Particularly if sexual selection acts on the size of the claw ("that guy has a really big one. Ooh! He must be fierce").

    Take a look, for example, at this picture [sc.gov] of a Fiddler crab, or even this picture [foodreference.com] of a stone crab, and then scale the "computer-generated visualization" in the article to that claw to body size, and you'll estimate that the guy is, maybe, half a meter long.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @11:04AM (#21434801)
    Exactly: We are already at the max size for our current skeletal design, as anyone over 6-4 (about 190 centimeters for those of you who use a logical measurement system) should be able to tell you. To grow any taller we'd need further extension of our ribcage (or something) to support our lower torso better.

    Anyone past that height currently either has back problems, or keeps themselves in decent shape so that their mucles can take some of the load in moderate high-stress situations, like falling over when you trip.
  • by Floritard (1058660) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:24PM (#21436085)
    IIRC stength varies with the square of the size of a thing. That's why giant ants in B-movies are a dumb concept. You can have itty bitty scorpions with huge claws they can carry around effortlessly, but once you start getting larger and larger you need to have more scorpion body not just to have that thing remain attached, but to be able to carry the thing around and be able to use it. I would think you'd want to be able to manipulate a huge claw pretty effortlessly for it to be of any use, otherwise it'd just be holding you back, and to do so you'd need big scorpion muscles. Although the thing is in the water so that could give you some leeway on weight, but still you'd need a big body to be able swing the claw around and not have it swing you.
  • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cnettel (836611) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @02:06PM (#21437621)
    While this is true of the horse (and current equine are probably the largest ones ever), there are many almost-current-size horse-relatives in the fossil records. They just didn't survive, and the ancestors to the current species of horse did. The "gradually larger" trend is visible only with hindsight.
  • Re:Man Sized? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zgregoryg (1061612) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @02:49PM (#21438209) Homepage Journal
    I should point out that these sort of creatures existed when the earth's climate was much hotter than today. ;-)

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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