I know most of us have visions of turkey dancing in our heads right now, but picture instead a lobster. Just your average run-of-the-mill fresh-from-the-pot dinner lobster. Now picture a lobster twice that size — say a foot and a half long. Now picture a lobster claw that’s a foot and a half long. Can you visualize the lobster it would belong to?
University of Bristol researchers recently stumbled upon a 1.5-foot-long fossilized claw from an ancient sea scorpion — a giant aquatic arthropod that roamed the floors of lakes and rivers 400 million years ago. The lobster analogy actually doesn’t properly convey this thing’s hugeness, because sea scorpion claws are proportionately smaller than lobster claws. Based on the size of the claw, and the relatively constant claw to body length ratio among sea scorpions, they were able to infer that the scorpion was about 8 feet 2 inches long.
An 8’2″ scorpion. Eesh. That’s just 9 inches short of the world’s tallest man.
“They would probably lie in wait,” Simon Braddy, one of the researchers, told Nature News. “When another animal went in front of it, it would lurch forward and capture it. … These things would tear their prey to shreds and then eat the little pieces.”
They’re calling it Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, and it’s the largest arthropod ever. For now.
Here’s a photo of the claw, from Nature News: