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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:DNA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by monomania ( 595068 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:41AM (#21434523)
    Well, it being a fossil of an ordinary type, there's no biological material remaining whatsoever; from the photograph you'll note that it's merely the chitinous exoskeleton of the claw -- it's entirely mineralized, as with so many such fossils; so, no DNA. Such cases, wherein soft tissue is preserved, are incredibly rare. I share your interest however in being able to recreate such a beast. Looks like tasty eatin'. Certainly not kosher. But tasty, I'll wager.
  • Wait a Minute (Score:3, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:56AM (#21434687) Journal
    The article said that all they found was the claw. Yet they've got a drawing of the whole creature. So the whole thing is 90% guesswork. There's no indication on the drawing as to which parts are factual, and which are guesswork. For all we know, this could have been a lobster, or a crab, rather than a scorpion. It could even have been from a small species where an individual had some giganticism disease. Unless they find the whole creature, there's no way of knowing.
  • Scorpion? Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mark_in_Brazil ( 537925 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @11:00AM (#21434747)
    Why do they call this a scorpion? Did it have a poisonous stinger on its tail? It looks like in their total speculation about the creature (the actual fossil was just a claw), they drew (see image in TFA) a creature with a swimming tail, like a lobster or a shrimp.
    Wouldn't "giant lobster" or "giant shrimp" be a better description of a large sea arthropod? Maybe it doesn't sound as exciting, but why would they call it a "sea scorpion" if there is no reason to believe it had the most well-known feature of land scorpions?
    Additionally, how do they know it wasn't a much smaller beast with proportionally larger claws, given that according to TFA, one of the leading theories about how and why such a huge arthropod evolved was an "arms race" with early armored fish?
  • Re:Amazing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigDumbAnimal ( 532071 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:08PM (#21435891)
    Burn karma Burn

    They're also unlikely to become as ubiquitous as humans, since most of the world doesn't have acacia trees for them to graze on (acacia trees that not many other creatures can graze on, because the food is too high up - hence the evolution of the giraffe as a specialist acacia feeder).

    Horse poo. Think about it.

    First animal: "Hey! look at those yummy acacia leaves. Too bad they are like 15 feet up there".
    Next Generation: "Still looks yummy, too bad it is still 15 feet up there."
    Next Generation: "Hey! Now I am getting closer! Still can't get any acacia yet!"
    Next Generation: "only 8 feet more to got!!!"
    Giraffe: "Mmm... yummy Acacia."

    A slightly taller horse/(giraffe ancestor?) would have no special advantage unless they became 15 feet tall in one generation. And if that happened, their head would explode the first time they leaned down for a drink of water without the special valves in their veins. Don't forget to 'evolve' those while you are getting taller.
  • by aeroelastic ( 840614 ) <aeroelastic AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:12PM (#21435947)
    Actually, with fossils, you sometimes have to do a lot of extrapolation. Very often you only find bone fragments or shell parts, especially with rare species. Euripterid fossils are relatively common, and the different species (300+) are fairly well documented. It is not a stretch to get a reasonably accurate length measurement based on one part. It would be similar to estimating human height based on hand size.

    It has been a while since my paleo-biology days, but I have no recollection of asymmetric body structures of any kind of euripterid. A quick search turns up no records of any species with different sized claws. Euripterids are more closely related to scorpions or spiders than crabs anyway. Info here, under classification: []
  • Re:Wait a Minute (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:29PM (#21436155)
    Think [] again [].

    It's a different species, but a close relative with similar anatomy.
  • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:51PM (#21436481)
    LMAO :0)

    Mr Dawkins would mod you +5 - Intelligent Design, I'm sure.

    The giraffe ancestor, IIRC, is some sort of camel, or at least that's what I dimly remember from my schooldays.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GreggBz ( 777373 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @03:42PM (#21439011) Homepage
    Passenger Pigeon, look it up. Extinct by the hands of humans in 1/100th of the time this took, and there were 5 BILLION of them. Scientists come in all political alignments. Most of them agree, that this is a very sound theory. The impact of humans upon this Earth is undeniable and factual. I don't care how you feel about it.

Truth is free, but information costs.