Scientists have made a startling discovery along this part of the coast in northeastern England: a 326-million-year-old fossil, showing traces of the largest millipede worm ever discovered. It’s estimated to be around 2.7 meters (about 9 feet) long – so we’re talking about the length of the car.
The remains are now extinct Arthropods The genus of arthropod millipedes, elevating this class of organisms to become the largest known invertebrates of all time. The discovery, originally made in 2018, was just an opportunity.
“It was a complete serendipitous discovery,” Earth scientist Neil Davis says:from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. “The way the boulder fell, it opened and cracked and completely exposed the fossil, which a former PhD student just happened to discover when walking past it.”
“It was an incredibly exciting find, but the fossil is so big that it took four of us to carry it up the slope.”
The size of the recovered portion of the fossils is 75 centimeters (nearly 30 inches), although the actual millipede was much larger. The team estimates it could have weighed about 50 kilograms (110 lb).
In addition to being a record-breaker, the fossil is teaching experts more about ancient millipedes. In the Carboniferous era, the United Kingdom was close to the equator, identical to the former Arthropods the findings. However, the type of site – the habitat of open forests near the coast – is different.
only the previous two Arthropods Fossils of this type discovered so far have been found in Germany and were smaller in size. These earlier findings also indicate that invertebrates tend to live around coal swamps—large areas of vast amounts of biomass that accumulated like peat when they died, eventually turning into coal.
It is generally accepted that arthropods (the group that includes insects and millipedes) today Can’t get this size physicallyOxygen levels are not high enough to facilitate the method of breathing in larger volumes.
However, this fossil dates back to before the peak of atmospheric oxygen in the late Carboniferous and Permian Periods, when the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere was only 23 percent, not much higher than Today 21 percent. This indicates that high oxygen may not be the only factor allowing arthropods to reach such amazing sizes.
Researchers attribute ArthropodsThe size of the nutrient-rich diet and the lack of predators.
“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 were probably predators feeding on other invertebrates and even small vertebrates like amphibians,” Davis says.
Arthropods Animals have lived around the equator for approximately 45 million years, and became extinct during the Permian period (299-252 million years ago). The reason for this extinction isn’t clear—perhaps due in part to the high number of reptiles that eventually outnumbered them—but we’re glad they’re still crawling around.
The fossil was discovered in sandstone that had fallen off a cliff, and it would have originally been in a river channel. It represents what is likely to be a dissolved part of Arthropods The exoskeleton, which was filled with sand at the end and which later preserves.
As a giant rarity Arthropods Fossils show that this type of preservation is very rare – and each new discovery can teach us more about how these ancient creatures lived and evolved.
“It’s rare to find these giant millipede fossils, because once they’re dead, their bodies tend to disintegrate, so it’s likely that the fossil was a melted shield that the animal shed as it grew,” he said. Davis says.
“We haven’t found a fossilized head yet, so it’s hard to know everything about it.”
The search was published in Journal of the Geological Society.