Giant scorpion claw discovered

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2007-11-22 17:23:49…   Giant scorpion claw discovered 21 Nov 2007 Nowadays arthropods such as spiders and crabs are considered to be small animals but the discovery of a 390 million year old giant fossil claw, published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, shows that they were much bigger than previously thought. The claw – found in Germany from a sea scorpion (eurypterid) Jaekelopterus rhananine – is 46cm long. This would mean that the scorpion’s body was 2.5 metres long making it the largest arthropod ever to have evolved. Dr Simon Braddy, University of Bristol said, “This is an amazing discovery. We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies, but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were. Arthropods have segmented bodies, jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton for example insects, spiders and crabs. Gigantism normally occurs because of high oxygen levels in the atmosphere but it can also result from other factors such as responses to predators, courtship behaviours and competition. Dr Braddy continues: “There is no simple single explanation. It is more likely that some ancient arthropods were big because there was little competition from the vertebrates, as we see today. If the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere suddenly increased, it doesn’t mean all the bugs would get bigger.”

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