Three words: Monster sea bug This rendering provided by Yale University shows a Pentecopterus decorahensis. Earth’s first big predatory monster was a weird water bug, newly found fossils show. Almost half a billion years ago, Earth’s dominant large predator was a sea scorpion that grew to 5 feet 7 inches with a dozen claw arms sprouting from its head and a spike tail, according to a new study. (Patrick J. Lynch/Yale University via AP)
Three words: Monster sea bug
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Earth's first big predatory monster was a weird water bug as big as Tom Cruise, newly found fossils show.
 
Almost half a billion years ago, way before the dinosaurs roamed, Earth's dominant large predator was a sea scorpion that grew to 5-foot-7, with a dozen claw arms sprouting from its head and a spike tail, according to a study.
 
Scientists found signs of these monsters of the prehistoric deep in Iowa, of all places.
 
Geologists at the Iowa Geological Survey found 150 pieces of fossils about 60 feet under the Upper Iowa River, part of which had to be temporarily obstructed to allow them to collect the specimens. Then scientists at Yale University determined they were a species from about 460 million years ago, when Iowa was under an ocean.
 
Then, all the action was in the sea and it was pretty small scale, said James Lamsdell of Yale, lead author of the study published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.
 
"This is the first real big predator," Lamsdell said. "I wouldn't have wanted to be swimming with it. There's something about bugs. When they're a certain size, they shouldn't be allowed to get bigger."
 
Technically, this creature - named Pentecopterus decorahensis, after an ancient Greek warship - is not a bug by science definitions, Lamsdell said. It's part of the eurypterid family, which are basically sea scorpions.
 
Those types of creatures "are really cool," said Joe Hannibal, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Hannibal wasn't part of the study, but praised it for being well done, adding "this species is not particularly bizarre - for a eurypterid."
 
Unlike modern land scorpions, this creature's tail didn't sting. It was used more for balance and in swimming, but half this creature's length was tail, Lamsdell said.
 
There were larger sea scorpions half way around the world at the same time but those were more bottom feeders instead of dominant predators, he said.
 
Lamsdell could tell by the way the many arms come out of the elongated head how this creature grabbed prey and pushed it to its mouth.
 
"It was obviously a very aggressive animal," Lamsdell said. "It was a big angry bug."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was the sea bug found in Iowa, which is hundreds of miles from the ocean?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (48)
  • cundiff,zachary-cas
    9/10/2015 - 07:50 a.m.

    The sea bug was found in Iowa, because at the time the sea bug lived Iowa was still an ocean.

    I thought the article was very interesting. It was interesting because the sea bug is a very unique creature that was never seen before. Also I didn't know Iowa used to be an ocean.

  • camacho,venus-cas
    9/10/2015 - 09:25 a.m.

    The sea bug was found in Iowa because it was once under the ocean, but is not now. I think its pretty cool how there were huge sea scorpions that were dominant predators.

  • analeye-
    9/10/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    Because at the time iowa was under the ocean.

  • wnek,alan-1-cas
    9/10/2015 - 06:53 p.m.

    1. Scientists at Yale University determined the sea bugs were a species from about 460 million years ago, when Iowa was under an ocean in that day in age.

    2. I think that it's really cool how parts of the Earth were completely different from how they are now. Knowing scientist found a creature from prehistoric time in this day in age is really interesting, scientist proved that there were many different forms of spices a long time ago and there are many more to still be discovered.

  • marventano,william-cas
    9/11/2015 - 07:29 a.m.

    The sea scorpion was in Iowa because 460 million most of the world was ocean. The sea scorpion 5 feet 7 inches long and was one of the first large predatory animal on earth. It is not like a modern day scorpion it's tail does not contain poison, the sea scorpion does have multiple large claws.

  • sierrab-ste
    9/11/2015 - 01:26 p.m.

    Beyond glad I was not around when this thing was! I'm scared of spiders and small bugs, I would be absolutely terrified of this thing. I would hide in my house twenty-four seven just to avoid this ugly, huge, scary thing.

  • lloyd,ashayla-cas
    9/11/2015 - 04:33 p.m.

    1. Monster Sea Bugs were dated back 460 million years ago, when Iowa was still under the ocean.
    2. It's always cool finding new species or finding more out about the species, and dating them back, connecting them to our own existence, it's always exciting. I don't know if I'm okay with it being a sea bug or scorpion, but I can live with that.

  • kopacz,patrick-cas
    9/12/2015 - 05:58 p.m.

    The water bug was found in Iowa which is hundreds of miles away from the ocean because about 460 million years ago Iowa was under an ocean. I think this is interesting because it is the first of its kind and it was miles away from where it would live.

  • druzhynska,khrystyna-cas
    9/12/2015 - 09:25 p.m.

    1. The sea bug was found in Iowa because almost half a billion years ago, that part of Earth was ocean. Then the Earth started to change and what once was water, became dry, and with it the sea bug died.
    2. I think that I would not want this type of animal to be alive in 2015. It looks scary, and I wouldn't want to be swimming with it when I go to the beach for my vacation. However, it is amazing that scientists found this terrifying, yet spectacular creature in Iowa that might contribute to the knowledge we already have of early Earth.

  • nicholasj-bag
    9/14/2015 - 07:26 p.m.

    Iowa was under water so it was a part of the ocean. What a cool topic. The details and use of words help me under stand this thing. I am interested in the cool thing scientist dig up.

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