According to newly discovered fossils, a “sea scorpion” was the very first marine predator, which lived 460 million years ago. The study was published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.
Before the dinosaurs, there was this large predator which lived in the Earth’s seas that would reach approximately 6 feet (approximately 170 centimeters), with claw arms and a spiked tail, says the recent study. Therefore, it was really big.
The ancient sea monster’s fossils were found in the Iowa river, said geologists from the Iowa Geological Survey. 150 fossil specimens were collected, from 30 individuals. Scientists from Yale University pointed out that this was a never before examined species. Back then, in prehistoric times, there was an ocean in that area.
But the fossilized remains weren’t bones, as the sea scorpion was an invertebrate which displayed no bones. Scientists rather studied its well-preserved exoskeleton.
The lead author of the study, James Lamsdell from Yale, explained that the sea scorpion was the first big bug-like predator in Earth’s history.
The creature was dubbed Pentecopterus decorahensis, and scientists named it after a Greek warship. These particular Greek warships were named penteconters, whereas decorahensis refers to the location where it was discovered: Decorah, Iowa. The critter belonged to the eurypterid family, making it, roughly, a sea scorpion. Moreover, eurypterids are “cousins” of crabs, scorpions and spiders, respectively.
Along with fossilized bits of the Pentecopterus, scientists also discovered fossils of arthropods and potentially jawless fish. Algae and plant matter was also unveiled.
However, the sea creature’s tail did not sting, even though it was similar to that of land scorpions, which are venomous. Pentecopterus’s tail was used for swimming and to preserve its balance.
Lamsdell also reported that there were some other species of sea scorpions in those ancient times, but they weren’t dominant predators. Instead, the marine creatures were more likely bottom feeders. He explained that due to the multitude of arms coming from its head he used them to grab the prey and then push it to its mouth.
Lamsdell finally pointed out that the sea scorpion might have been truly aggressive and an angry sea bug.
Photo Credits mirror.co.uk