Yale study: first scary predator was big sea scorpion

This rendering provided by Yale University shows a Pentecopterus decorahensis. Earth’s first big predatory monster was a weird water bug, newly found fossils show. Almost half a billion years ago, Earth’s dominant large predator was a sea scorpion that grew to 5 feet 7 inches with a dozen claw arms sprouting from its head and a spike tail, according to a new study. (Patrick J. Lynch/Yale University via AP)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– According to a new study done by Yale, earth’s first scary predator was a really big water bug.

The Pentecopterus was a human-sized prehistoric sea scorpion that lurked in the sea 467 million years ago and used its claw arms to grab prey.

The study was done by a Yale University research team and published in the BMC Evolutionary Biology after 150 pieces of new fossils were found well-preserved under the Upper Iowa River.

“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,” said James Lamsdell, the lead author of the study said in a statement to ABC News.

The fossil site revealed both adult and juvenile Pentecopterus specimens, which helped scientists understand their development.

According to Yale, the Pentecopterus “could grow to nearly six feet, with a long head shield, a narrow body, and large, grasping limbs for trapping prey.”

This study is significant because it revealed not only the largest sea scorpion to ever exist but also the oldest described Eurypterids, which is “a group of aquatic arthropods that are ancestors of modern spiders, lobsters, and ticks.”

“This shows that eurypterids evolved some 10 million years earlier than we thought, and the relationship of the new animal to other eurypterids shows that they must have been very diverse during this early time of their evolution, even though they are very rare in the fossil record,” said Lamsdell.

The Pentecopterus was named after an ancient Greek warship.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s