The “huge monster” sea scorpion has been revealed through the discovery of fossils

This illustration shows what a sea scorpion, a one-meter-long monster, might look like.

Queensland Museum / Alison Douglas

Sea scorpions no longer exist, a fact you might be grateful to know because land scorpions don’t have a good reputation. Researchers have investigated a fossil that has been wandering for years at the Queensland Museum in Australia and found that it belongs to a fearsome group of predators that have long been extinct.

In a statement issued on Friday, Dr The museum described a sea scorpion as a A “huge beast” that could potentially reach 3 feet (1 meter) in length. He lived in lakes or rivers around what is now the Australian city of Theodore. It is the first fossil of a sea scorpion identified in Queensland.

We’ve met some other sea scorpion fossils before, especially a Dog-sized species discovered near China. Sea scorpions are formally known as eryriberides. The new one is now called Woodwardopterus freemanorum.

Woodwardopterus freemanorum fossil and illustration of the fossil.

Queensland Museum

The fossil was originally discovered in the 1990s and first examined by the museum in 2013. The COVID shutdown provided Andrew Rosefields, curator of the Queensland Museum of Earth Sciences, an opportunity to revisit the as-yet-unidentified “cold state” creature.

“When the fragmentary specimen arrived in our collection, it was initially placed in a ‘very hard basket,'” Roosevelds said, “but the closures provided the opportunity to study and re-evaluate some of our fossil collection, and this particular fossil has always intrigued me.” Rozefelds is the co-author of the book A research paper on sea scorpion published in the Journal of Historical Biology.

Rozefelds and lead author Markus Poschmann, an expert in the European field, dated the fossil to 252 million years ago. This was around the time the sea scorpions were gone, making Woodwardopterus freemanorum one of the last known species of its kind. “This puzzling new fossil helps bridge the gap in our knowledge of this group of animals in Australia, and around the world,” Roosevelds said.

Sea scorpions are relatives of modern scorpions and other spiders. The one in Theodore could have been one of the most important predators of his day, but that’s not something we modern humans should worry about getting entangled with. Whew.

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