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Biggest Bug Ever (it's a fossil)

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  • Biggest Bug Ever (it's a fossil)

    In what is described as having been the largest "bug" that ever existed, researchers discovered the fossil of a huge millipede-like creature that lived back during the Carboniferous Period roughly 326 mya.

    The paper itself calls it "The largest arthropod in Earth history" although in the abstract the researchers seem a bit more circumspect, referring to the discovery as "represent[ing] one of the largest known arthropod fossils and the largest arthropleurid recovered to date." Still it is one huge "bug."

    The fossil in question was discovered quite by chance when a large chunk of a sandstone cliff broke off on a beach at Howick Bay in Northumberland, some 40 miles north of Newcastle in northeastern England. It had cracked open to reveal something made up of a number of articulated exoskeleton segments, similar to what we find in modern millipedes.

    The rock had cracked open, revealing the fossil where a former doctoral student saw it and notified his old professor.

    When finally properly examined the creature was identified as a new species of Arthropleura, which is primarily known about from disarticulated segments found in Germany from over ten million years later.

    The specimen is described as having been 2.63 meters (over 8.5') long, 55cm (22") wide, and weighed in at around 50kgs (110 lbs.). That would make it the larger than the previous holder of the title of largest invertebrate of all time -- the ancient sea scorpions (Eurypterids).

    I killed a large millipede in my living room two days ago. I don't think I would care to tangle with one that sized. Or at least not with only a can of Raid.

    It also had somewhere between 32 and 64 legs, which is nowhere close to that found in millipedes, does fall into the range found among centipedes.

    In any case, the researchers believe that the fossil might not have been that of a dead creature but rather that of an exoskeleton that had been shed as it grew.

    That means it was even bigger.


    Source: Millipedes ‘as big as cars’ once roamed Northern England, fossil find reveals


    The largest-ever fossil of a giant millipede – as big as a car – has been found on a beach in the north of England.

    The fossil – the remains of a creature called Arthropleura – dates from the Carboniferous Period, about 326 million years ago, over 100 million years before the Age of Dinosaurs. The fossil reveals that Arthropleura was the largest-known invertebrate animal of all time, larger than the ancient sea scorpions that were the previous record holders.

    The specimen, found on a Northumberland beach about 40 miles north of Newcastle, is made up of multiple articulated exoskeleton segments, broadly similar in form to modern millipedes. It is just the third such fossil ever found. It is also the oldest and largest: the segment is about 75 centimetres long, while the original creature is estimated to have measured around 2.7 metres long and weighed around 50 kilograms. The results are reported in the Journal of the Geological Society.

    The fossil was discovered in January 2018 in a large block of sandstone that had fallen from a cliff to the beach at Howick Bay in Northumberland. “It was a complete fluke of a discovery,” said Dr Neil Davies from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, the paper’s lead author. “The way the boulder had fallen, it had cracked open and perfectly exposed the fossil, which one of our former PhD students happened to spot when walking by.”

    Unlike the cool and wet weather associated with the region today, Northumberland had a more tropical climate in the Carboniferous Period, when Great Britain lay near the Equator. Invertebrates and early amphibians lived off the scattered vegetation around a series of creeks and rivers. The specimen identified by the researchers was found in a fossilised river channel: it was likely a moulted segment of the Arthropleura’s exoskeleton that filled with sand, preserving it for hundreds of millions of years.

    The fossil was extracted in May 2018 with permission from Natural England and the landowners, the Howick Estate. “It was an incredibly exciting find, but the fossil is so large it took four of us to carry it up the cliff face,” said Davies.

    The fossil was brought back to Cambridge so that it could be examined in detail. It was compared with all previous records and revealed new information about the animal’s habitat and evolution. The animal can be seen to have only existed in places that were once located at the Equator, such as Great Britain during the Carboniferous. Previous reconstructions have suggested that the animal lived in coal swamps, but this specimen showed Arthropleura preferred open woodland habitats near the coast.

    There are only two other known Arthropleura fossils, both from Germany, and both much smaller than the new specimen. Although this is the largest Arthropleura fossil skeleton ever found, there is still much to learn about these creatures. “Finding these giant millipede fossils is rare, because once they died, their bodies tend to disarticulate, so it’s likely that the fossil is a moulted carapace that the animal shed as it grew,” said Davies. “We have not yet found a fossilised head, so it’s difficult to know everything about them.”

    The great size of Arthropleura has previously been attributed to a peak in atmospheric oxygen during the late Carboniferous and Permian periods, but because the new fossil comes from rocks deposited before this peak, it shows that oxygen cannot be the only explanation.

    The researchers believe that to get to such a large size, Arthropleura must have had a high-nutrient diet. “While we can’t know for sure what they ate, there were plenty of nutritious nuts and seeds available in the leaf litter at the time, and they may even have been predators that fed off other invertebrates and even small vertebrates such as amphibians,” said Davies.

    Arthropleura animals crawled around Earth’s equatorial region for around 45 million years, before going extinct during the Permian period. The cause of their extinction is uncertain, but could be due to global warming that made the climate too dry for them to survive, or to the rise of reptiles, who out-competed them for food and soon dominated the same habitats.


    Source

    © Copyright Original Source



    The abstract for the paper, The largest arthropod in Earth history: insights from newly discovered Arthropleura remains (Serpukhovian Stainmore Formation, Northumberland, England) can be read below:

    Abstract

    Arthropleura is a genus of giant myriapods that ranged from the early Carboniferous to Early Permian, with some individuals attaining lengths >2 m. Although most of the known fossils of the genus are disarticulated and occur primarily in late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) strata, we report here partially articulated Arthropleura remains from the early Carboniferous Stainmore Formation (Serpukhovian; Pendleian) in the Northumberland Basin of northern England. This 76  36 cm specimen represents part of an exuvium and is notable because only two comparably articulated giant Arthropleura fossils are previously known. It represents one of the largest known arthropod fossils and the largest arthropleurid recovered to date, the earliest (Mississippian) body fossil evidence for gigantism in Arthropleura, and the first instance of a giant arthropleurid body fossil within the same regional sedimentary succession as the large arthropod trackway Diplichnites cuithensis. The remains represent 12–14 anterior Arthropleura tergites in the form of a partially sand-filled dorsal exoskeleton. The original organism is estimated to have been 55 cm in width and up to 2.63 m in length, weighing c. 50 kg. The specimen is preserved partially in three dimensions within fine sandstone and has been moderately deformed by synsedimentary tectonics. Despite imperfect preservation, the specimen corroborates the hypothesis that Arthropleura had a tough, sclerotized exoskeleton. Sedimentological evidence for a lower delta plain depositional environment supports the contention that Arthropleura preferentially occupied open woody habitats, rather than swampy environments, and that it shared such habitats with tetrapods. When viewed in the context of all the other global evidence for Arthropleura, the specimen contributes to a dataset that shows the genus had an equatorially restricted palaeogeographical range, achieved gigantism prior to late Paleozoic peaks in atmospheric oxygen, and was relatively unaffected by climatic events in the late Carboniferous, prior to its extinction in the early Permian.





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  • #2
    As big as cars? Perhaps it was a Volkswagon?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
      As big as cars? Perhaps it was a Volkswagon?

      I saw that and thought that wasn't even 2/3 of my car

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

      Comment


      • #4
        I sometimes get these guys in my house. In fact, they are nicknamed "house centipedes." I originally freaked out and killed them, until I learned that they eat spiders - and just about anything else that moves that are smaller than they are. They stay far away from people so I just leave it be when I see one.

        centipede.jpg
        "You should just assume going forward that if I am ever wrong it is a typo" - Backup
        "
        Reality simply does not change based upon consensus or desire." - rogue

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
          As big as cars? Perhaps it was a Volkswagon?

          Maybe if you had said "Perhaps it was a love bug."
          1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
          "It's bigger inside" might work for a TARDIS - it doesn't work for a bronze sea.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ronson View Post
            I sometimes get these guys in my house. In fact, they are nicknamed "house centipedes." I originally freaked out and killed them, until I learned that they eat spiders - and just about anything else that moves that are smaller than they are. They stay far away from people so I just leave it be when I see one.

            centipede.jpg
            A lot of folks leave spiders alone for the same reason but then a couple of weeks ago I went outside around 5 AM and thanks to the full moon I noticed a web glimmering between the bushes on either side of the steps down. I looked closely and a fairly large spider was in the middle. After shining a light on it (my porch light needs replacing), I identified it as a Brown Recluse. Along with a Black Widow one of the two poisonous spiders around here.

            Glad I didn't walk through the web.

            I'm always still in trouble again

            "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
            "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
            "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
              A lot of folks leave spiders alone for the same reason but then a couple of weeks ago I went outside around 5 AM and thanks to the full moon I noticed a web glimmering between the bushes on either side of the steps down. I looked closely and a fairly large spider was in the middle. After shining a light on it (my porch light needs replacing), I identified it as a Brown Recluse. Along with a Black Widow one of the two poisonous spiders around here.

              Glad I didn't walk through the web.
              I've had both types of spiders before but I've never (or rarely) had a black widow in my house. They tend to get into the garage or tool shed. Brown recluses get into the house and can get plentiful. And I've had a couple of family members get bit so I'd rather not have any spiders in the house. I've never met anyone who has been bit by a house centipede, and they are venomous. I've seen people holding them.
              "You should just assume going forward that if I am ever wrong it is a typo" - Backup
              "
              Reality simply does not change based upon consensus or desire." - rogue

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ronson View Post

                I've had both types of spiders before but I've never (or rarely) had a black widow in my house. They tend to get into the garage or tool shed. Brown recluses get into the house and can get plentiful. And I've had a couple of family members get bit so I'd rather not have any spiders in the house. I've never met anyone who has been bit by a house centipede, and they are venomous. I've seen people holding them.
                A bug that big in the house ought to be paying rent.

                I'm always still in trouble again

                "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                Comment

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