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. 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."

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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 (24)
  • hlaox-bar
    9/15/2015 - 12:44 p.m.

    If the US use to be underwater and this creature was found in Iowa can there be more of them in other states in the US?

  • braydeny-
    9/15/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    It was found in Iowa because they said in the article that 460,000 million years Iowa used to be an ocean meaning this creature would have been able to travel around the Iowa back then until it got killed or died of old age.

  • joshuat-
    9/15/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    It was found in Iowa because Iowa was under the ocean at the time. The sea bug lived 460 million years ago. So 460 million years ago Iowa must of been under water.

  • jeremyc-
    9/15/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    The Pentecopterus decorahensis was found in the upper Iwoa river, because millions of years ago Iwoa was under an ocean. Scientist said that these species were nearly 460 million years old. So Iwoa had to of been underan ocean if they were found in the Iwoa river, or they could be freshwater fish.

  • loganh-
    9/15/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    The sea bug was found in Iowa because 460 million years ago Iowa was under water.Also it was way before the dinosaurs,so sea animals were the dominate species.The sea bug was one of the first sea animals in the world to.

  • hunterg-12346-
    9/15/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    Because the upper Iowa river (along with everything else) was covered by ocean 460 million years ago. Iowa is in the middle of the united states which is a ways away from the ocean, but 460 million years ago Iowa was probably in the middle of the ocean. :o

  • vincents-1-bar
    9/16/2015 - 12:31 a.m.

    Because about 460 million years ago, the United States was submerged under water during pangea. During this time Pangea was when the continents were one big land mass, so that's probably why the Pentecopter decorahensis is there. In my opinion I think that it was a very interesting article and discovery because that geologists found a sea scorpion from 460 million years ago is found now.

  • elijahb-6-bar
    9/17/2015 - 08:43 p.m.

    The sea bug was found in Iowa because Iowa was covered with water so all the fossils disappeared in the ocean. As it says in the article "back then Iowa was under an ocean". I think this article is very interesting because it's a sea scorpion and it's also known as a bug and I didn't know bugs could be that big.

  • aidanp-1-bar
    9/18/2015 - 12:03 a.m.

    460 million years ago, North America was submerged underwater and was part of the ocean at the time.

  • aubreyl-bro
    9/18/2015 - 11:27 a.m.

    The ocean sea bug was found in Iowa, which is hundreds of mies from the ocean. because Iowa use to be underwater. Many years ago, Most of North America was underwater which is why in may states you can find fossils of ocean-dwelling creatures.

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