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Man Sized Sea Scorpion Fossil Found 216

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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  • Re:Man Sized? (Score:3, Informative)

    by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:58AM (#21434719)
    Thanks to the McDonaldization of Europe, there are now plenty of fatties waddling around the old continent too.

    At least you can get a beer or wine with your KFC.

  • Re:Man Sized? (Score:5, Informative)

    by d0rp ( 888607 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @11:08AM (#21434883)
    Man sized sea scorpion? Must be a cousin of the infamous Claw Shrimp [penny-arcade.com]
  • Re:Amazing (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @11:16AM (#21435029)
    Your point maybe valid, but your analogy is off. Modern day horses are giants compared to their ancestors. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_horse [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @11:25AM (#21435179) Journal

    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.
    The current widelw-accepted theory is that human predation caused those extinctions in the Americas, which was enabled by the last ice age (from the diaspora of peoples via the north pacific land bridge). Large animals that did not co-evolve with humans were easy prey for voracious hunter-gatherers. Large carnivorous animals followed, due to both reduction of their food supply by human hunters, and by direct hunting by humans.

    In Eurasia, reduced habitat due to encroaching ice reduced mammoth populations, not just because of less food, but also because it forced the mammoths to migrate to areas where human predation was a bigger problem. Not sure if this is considered the current theory for the cave bear as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:07PM (#21435875)
    Near-complete specimens of pterygotid [wikipedia.org] eurypterids [wikipedia.org] (which is what this thing is) are already known, and were already known to exceed 2 metres in length. For example, look at this specimen of Pterygotus [langsfossils.com] from a famous locality in New York where eurytperid specimens are mined. So, this isn't some random extrapolation where the remaining anatomy is complete guesswork, it is based on the typical anatomy in the group. Pterygotus and its relatives was freaking huge. While it is true that this specimen could be from a species with an exaggerated claw size compared to other pterygotids, the claws described in the paper are pretty darn big, even for one of these sea scorpions.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:34PM (#21436229) Journal
    said the claw indicates that sea scorpion Jaekelopterus rhenania was almost 2.5 meters long...making it the largest arthropod ever found.

    Other potential size challengers include the Arthropleura, which was a giant centipede-like critter. Although, it probably lacked the bulk of the sea scorpion.

    Another contender was the Anomalocaris, which looked kind of like a giant brine shrimp with two front tenticals. It was the first known "large" preditor. It's one of the odder Cambrian critters. However, it's classification as an arthropod is still up in the air. It may be from an extinct sister phyla to arthropods.
  • by siliconwafer ( 446697 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @01:34PM (#21437145)
    While only a claw was found this time, I'd like to point out that this is not the first very large Eurypterid to be found. A complete Eurypterid was found, that is a few meters in length, at Lang's Quarry near Herkimer, NY. (Eurypterid fossils are commonly found there, and in many locations across Upstate NY and Ontario, Canada). A cast is on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario Canada for the public to see. I don't recall the exact length, but it's taller than I am (at 5'11"). Most Eurypterids are pretty small. I have a collection of complete Eurypterid specimens but none of mine are more than 12" in length.

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