During times when space agencies are actively looking for signs of life forms on other planets, they should shift their attention elsewhere. While Earth, by definition, cannot host any aliens, it’s still the place where various and peculiar forms of life emerge. And the diversity is so incredible and vast that scientists frequently have surprises.
Even a person with no scientific background knows very well that scorpions are relatively small animals. But during a specific period of the Earth’s history, these creatures were bigger than us human beings.
Giant sea scorpions living during the Paleozoic Era
Also known as Eurypterida, these sea scorpions had been living in the Australian waters hundreds of millions of years ago.
The Paleozoic Era lasted between 541 million and 252 million years ago, way before the extinction of the dinosaurs due to the Chicxulub impactor. During this period, arthropods, which are animals having exoskeletons like insects, were roaming across the planet. Some of the Paleozoic arthropods even represent the largest animals living on Earth at the time.
Among them there is Eurypterida, which was even bigger than humans – a specimen could have been 2, 5 meters long. These creatures are considered the cousins of modern scorpions.
Scientists are not sure about what were the sea scorpions nurturing themselves with, but they’re placing their bets on fish and smaller anthropods. Also, Eurypterida most likely wouldn’t have said ‘no’ to human flesh as well.
Among the scientists involved in the study there were Russell Dean Christopher Bicknell, who is a Post-doctoral researcher in Paleobiology , University of New England, and Patrick Mark Smith, who is Technical Officer – Paleontology, Australian Museum. Natalie Schroeder from Geoscience Australia had also offered help for the research.
The new study was published in Gondwana Research here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1342937X20301799