Scientists Find Oldest Known Species Of Sea Scorpion
(Click to enlarge) Team members have dubbed the newly described predator Pentecopterusafter the penteconter, a type of ancient Greek warship that roughly mirrors the creature’s body shape. (Credit: Patrick Lynch/Yale University)
Scientists have unearthed the oldest known species of a long-extinct group known as sea scorpions, a find that could mean the ancient creatures may have an even older origin than previously thought.
(From Science / by Sid Perkins) — Team members have dubbed the newly described predator Pentecopterusafter the penteconter, a type of ancient Greek warship that roughly mirrors the creature’s body shape. More than 150 fossil fragments of the animals, some of them possibly bits of molted exoskeleton, have been excavated from 467-million-year-old rocks in northeastern Iowa—rocks that are about 9 million years older than those that held fossils of the previously oldest known species. (Sea scorpions, more formally known as eurypterids, were arthropods, a group that includes insects, spiders, and crabs as well as their extinct kin such as trilobites.) Adults of the newly described predator were probably about 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) long, but some of the fossil fragments came from juveniles that may have measured between 10 and 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) in length, the researchers report online today in BMC Evolutionary Biology.
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