Super-Sized Scorpion

German scientists recently unearthed the fossilized claw of an 390 million-year-old sea scorpion. The finding was, literally, huge: the claw was 18.1 inches long, making the beast that used it longer than 8 feet!

The scientist who actually found the claw, Markus Poschmann of the Mainz Museum in Germany, describes what happened when he was excavating a quarry in Prüm, Germany:

I was loosening pieces of rock with a hammer and chisel when I suddenly realised there was a dark patch of organic matter on a freshly removed slab. After some cleaning I could identify this as a small part of a large claw. Although I did not know if it was more complete or not, I decided to try and get it out.

The fossil analysis, published last week in the journal Biology Letters, identified the claw as sea scorpion Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, an extinct species that gave rise to modern scorpions and possibly all arachnids.

I'll leave you with an intriguing question about the scorpion posed by a reader on Carl Zimmer's blog, The Loom: "Would it taste like lobster?"

(Above, an Egyptian deathstalker scorpion, Leiurus quinquestriatus, under blacklight. Flickr, by furryscaly)

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