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
Lexile

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. It grew to 5-foot-7 and a dozen claw arms sprouted 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 the river had to be temporarily stemmed to allow them to collect the specimens. Then scientists at Yale University determined they were a species from about 460 million years ago. Back then Iowa was under an ocean.
 
Then, all the action was in the sea and it was pretty small scale, said James Lamsdell, a professor at Yale and the 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."
 
The creature is named Pentecopterus decorahensis, after an ancient Greek warship. Technically, it is not a bug by science definitions, Lamsdell said. It's part of the eurypterid family. So it's basically a sea scorpion.
 
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 he 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."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 47 times
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 (24)
  • rorys-1-bar
    9/10/2015 - 07:53 p.m.

    The reason that the sea bug was found in Iowa is because the United States used to be under the ocean that lapped around Pangea.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/10/2015 - 08:54 p.m.

    This is very interesting because scientists found fossils of a eurypterid that was a dominant predator. This was about 500 years ago, when most of the continents were underwater and when there were no signs of life on land. Everything was underwater.
    Critical Thinking Challenge: Why was the sea bug found in Iowa, which is hundreds of miles from the ocean?
    Answer: The ea bug was found in Iowa because back then it was covered underwater.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    9/10/2015 - 08:57 p.m.

    Big sea bugs are being discovered that are dead and they are assuming that the bugs are tall as the famous actor Tom Cruise.

  • alexusk-
    9/11/2015 - 09:06 a.m.

    These things look scary and I would hate to see one in person. Rather than that they sound pretty cool and interesting

  • gabrielt-
    9/11/2015 - 09:08 a.m.

    I think that the sea scorpions look cool

  • ryanv-
    9/11/2015 - 09:11 a.m.

    It was found in Iowa because Iowa was under and ocean in some part of the Earth's life. Iowa came up from the ocean like the entire continent of North America. The sea scorpion must have died and the got encased in mud and other organic substances then is started fossilizing. Then we dug the fossil up from 60 feet under the Upper Iowa river.

  • greisonm-
    9/11/2015 - 09:11 a.m.

    The sea bug was found in Iowa because during the time those creatures lived Iowa was underwater. As time went on the water receded or the Land was raised up and the dead sea bugs were buried under sediment thus creating these fossils found under the Upper Iowa River.

  • camdenc-ver
    9/11/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    I thought it was cool that Iowa was once under and ocean. I never knew that before!

  • maxx-ver
    9/14/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    Would it be possible that the predator might still exist?

  • carlym-4-bar
    9/15/2015 - 01:24 a.m.

    The sea bug was found in Iowa because Iowa had an ocean over it about 460 million years ago. According to the website it says, "Then scientists at Yale University determined they were a species from about 460 million years ago. Back then Iowa was under an ocean." This quote explains why the species was found in Iowa.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT