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.