Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, November 23, 2007

Scary Scorpions

File this in the handy file you keep for reasons to be thankful we live now instead of 390 million years ago:
ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2007) — The discovery of a giant fossilised claw from an ancient sea scorpion indicates that when alive it would have been about two and a half meters long, much taller than the average man.

This find, from rocks 390 million years old, suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought.

As if this weren't scary enough, next we're treated to some really crazy quotesmanship from one of the docs:

Dr Simon Braddy from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, co-author of an article about the find, said, 'This is an amazing discovery. We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies, but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were.'

Why was such a large critter with such a large claw needed? The surprisingly witty story gives us the answer:
Some geologists believe that giant arthropods evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others, that they evolved in an 'arms race' alongside their likely prey, the early armoured fish.
Arms race? Like a claw competition?

By the way, how did that extra oxygen get there without us to jack it up, as we're supposedly doing with greenhouse gases?

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