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Fossil of 8 Foot Long Arthropod Unearthed by Scientists!

A fossilized claw of an ancient sea scorpion has been discovered by British Scientists in 390-million-year-old rocks and disclosed online Tuesday. To date, this would be the largest known bug ever to have evolved at 8 feet long - almost half a yard longer than previous estimates.

Existing views on prehistoric life would have to be revised. Until recently, spiders, insects, crabs and similar insects were thought to have reached a maximum length of up to 7 feet only.

Paleontologist Simon Braddy of the University of Bristol , amazed at the discovery said, "We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies. But we never realized until now just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were." Braddy authored the study along with two other paleontologists.

The research, available in Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, implies that prior to the extinction of eurypterids, or ancient sea scorpions, they were much greater in length than the average height of man today.

Paleontologist Jeorg W. Schneider of Freiberg Mining Academy located in southeastern Germany, though not directly involved in the study, stated that much more information are now available about "the last of the giant scorpions". He further said that these scorpions "were dominant for millions of years because they didn't have natural enemies. Eventually they were wiped out by large fish with jaws and teeth."

Braddy's partner and co-author of the study Markus Poschmann was in fact the one who stumbled upon the claw fossil several years ago while on an excavation near Prum, Germany.

"I was loosening pieces of rock with a hammer and chisel when I suddenly realized 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," said Poschmann.

"Although I did not know if it was more complete or not, I decided to try and get it out. The pieces had to be cleaned separately, dried, and then glued back together. It was then put into a white plaster jacket to stabilize it."

According to Braddy, the claw was from a Jaekelopterus rhenaniae. This was a type of scorpion that settled only in Germany for about 10 to 400 million years ago.

He said some geologists theorize that the higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere then contributed in part to the evolution of these oversized sea scorpions.


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