A giant, two metre long scorpion fossil has been discovered by researchers from Yale. Although it was discovered in Iowa, a long way from the nearest sea today, 460 million years ago this was an ocean and this huge twelve clawed monster is thought to have been the terror of the sea floor. Published in BioMed Central this open access paper gives details of the huge exoskeleton they have studied in the 5 years since it was excavated. Due to its suspected highly predatory nature and the shape of its profile, the team named the new specimen Pentecopterus decorahensis after the trojan penteconter warship.
When we think of scorpions today we’ll probably conjure an image of an arid desert but Pentecopterus is a member of the Eurypterid family, an extinct branch of sea scorpions. The six pairs of claws seem to have evolved to perform at least three distinct functions including digging or paddling through the water, grasping prey and walking. This is also a particularly old find, being a good 9 million years older than the previously oldest Eurypterid known.