The recent discovery of a giant-sized fossil has intrigued everyone. A five-inch scorpion fossil has surfaced recently, and it also resurfaces the historical information associated with it.
On imagining a scorpion, you generally tend to think it to be of finger-length, inhabiting the land. But, archaeologists from the Nanjing Institute of Geology, Palaeontology, and Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Chinese Academy of Sciences’ have unearthed Eurypterid fossils in China. It is a fossil of a scorpion that is a meter-long, and it used to roam across the sea floors of south China. The length of this discovered fossil is almost five times as long as the average-sized scorpions available today.
According to the discovery, this giant-sized used to 400 million years ago. To be precise, it was between 443.8 million and 419.2 million years earlier. Bearing the scientific name Terropterus Xiushanensis, it lived during the Llandovery epoch of the Silurian period.
Occurring in the marine environments, the ancient creature belongs to a sea scorpions family called Mixopteridae. This extinct arthropod group had first made its appearance during the Ordovician age 480 million years ago. It had reached its diversity peak in the Silurian period, which was 430 million years ago. The final extinction of the group took place during the Permian era, which was about 280 million years ago.
Structure of the Discovered Fossil
The fossil of scorpion discovered reveals special basket-like appendages, which enabled it to capture its prey. The discovered fossil has been categorized under the eurypterids group, known as mixopterids. It also consists of an enlarged limb and a unique spines arrangement. The giant arthropod possibly enabled it to become a top predator. The scientist’s team will study morphology to uncover its complex evolutionary history and its relation to several other groups.
The study’s authors further add that their knowledge of mixopterids is constrained to only four species in two genera, based on some fossil specimens that appeared in the Silurian Laurussia almost 80 years ago. Hence, the newly discovered fossil will help to enrich the knowledge about the morphological diversity of mixopterids. The researchers hope that future work, especially in Asia, will help uncover how the mixopterids and other eurypterids groups are distributed.
These scorpions are Silurian in age and exclusively belonged to the ancient continent of Laurussia, which essentially limits the knowledge of its morphological diversity, evolutionary history, and geographical distribution of the concerned group of species.
This giant-sized scorpion was an apex underwater predator when there were no large vertebrate competitors. It used its giant spiny arms, pedipalps, to catch its prey, such as fish and mollusks. Fortunately, this dangerous creature lived 400 million years ago.