Meet monster-like sea scorpion from ancient seas - RNews1 Network

Meet monster-like sea scorpion from ancient seas

Pterygotus, monster, sea scorpion, Yale University, Fossils, ancient seas
“The new species is incredibly bizarre. The shape of the paddle – the leg which it would use to swim – is unique, as is the shape of the head. It is also big – over a metre and a half long!” said lead author James Lamsdell from Yale University. This shows that eurypterids evolved some 10 million years earlier than we thought.

“The relationship of the new animal to other eurypterids shows that they must have been very diverse during this early time of their evolution,” said James Lamsdell, post-doctoral associate at the university.

“Pentecopterus is large and predatory, and eurypterids must have been important predators in these early Palaeozoic ecosystems,” he added.

Geologists with the Iowa Geological Survey at the University of Iowa discovered the fossil bed in a meteorite crater by the Upper Iowa River in northeastern Iowa.

Fossils were then unearthed and collected by temporarily damming the river in 2010. Researchers from Yale and the University of Iowa have led the analysis.

The fossil-rich site yielded both adult and juvenile Pentecopterus specimens, giving the researchers a wealth of data about the animal’s development. In addition, the researchers said, the specimens were exceptionally well preserved.

Spines are also present on some limbs and appear similar to those found on horseshoe crabs where they aid in processing food. The discovery has been detailed in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.


Lead author, James Lamsdell from Yale University, USA, said: "The new species is incredibly bizarre. The shape of the paddle - the leg which it would use to swim - is unique, as is the shape of the head. It's also big - over a meter and a half long!"

He adds: "Perhaps most surprising is the fantastic way it is preserved - the exoskeleton is compressed on the rock but can be peeled off and studied under a microscope. This shows an amazing amount of detail, such as the patterns of small hairs on the legs. At times it seems like you are studying the shed skin of a modern animal - an incredibly exciting opportunity for any paleontologist."

The new eurypterid species is represented by more than 150 fossil fragments, excavated from the upper layer of the Winneshiek Shale in northeastern Iowa - a 27 meter thick sandy shale located within an ancient meteorite impact crater and mostly submerged by the Upper Iowa River.

 


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