Fossil of a millipede the size of a crocodile was found on the English coast

Fossilized arthropod shield.

a A team of paleontologists have described shockingly big Fossil of the millipede that was found on an English beach in 2018. The millipede that left the fossil Was well as more than 8 Long feet and may have been a predator.

Sometime between April 2017 and January 2018, a large block of sandstone broke off a cliff in Northumbria, England, and fell about 20 feet onto the beach below. A paleontologist takes a random walk Along the beach I found the rock And I realized that it contained the fossil of a giant millipede. A team from the University of Cambridge studied the discovery. Their results were published Today in the Journal of the Geological Society.

“It was a completely serendipitous discovery,” said Neil Davies, a University of Cambridge paleontologist and lead author of the study, at one university. Release. “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.”

The creature is part of the genus Arthropods, and lived about 326 million years ago, or 100 million years before the appearance of the first dinosaurs. Fossil missing head, But the animal’s size is 8 feet and 7 long inches It may weigh more than 100 lbs in life.

“These could have been the largest animals on Earth in the Carboniferous region,” Davies told Gizmodo in an email. “It took the four of us with heavy hammers and an air drill to get it.ut, then it was hard to climb 20-meter cliff holds 40 kg The fossil is among us.”

The research team believes that the fossil is not the animal itself But a melted shield is called exuvium. So, even the size of the animal as known from this fossil may not be the largest after all I slept.

Based on the location of the fossil and the stone it was in, researchers believe the exoskeleton was in a river channel, where it was filled with sandy sediment, which preserves it. The exoskeleton was found near tetrapod prints dating from the same time, indicating that giant invertebrates coexisted with vertebrates.

Giant millipede reconstruction.

The sandstone mass also included some fossilized plants from the Carboniferous period which indicate that the giant millipede inhabited a much drier, more open environment than previously thought. The traditional view has been that arthropods have been living in swampy environments ever since a lot of Fossils have been found in coal mines that were once dense, moist forests.

Animals may have become very large in part because of the amount of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere in the ancient past. but the Arthropods This peak precedes atmospheric oxygen, so other factors may have played a role, such as the animal’s diet. Davis said the animals may have been predators that got their nutrients from other invertebrates or even amphibians, if not from the leaf litter themselves.

these millipedes now extinct, which may have something to do with how the ancient climate changed. “Organisms lived near the equator, which became hot and dry during the Permian,” Davis said. This will likely change the vegetation and possibly make food more scarce. At the same time, the first reptiles began to dominate Earth’s habitats, so they would have faced more competition for fewer resources.”

Regardless of the source of their currency, millipedes will be a sight to behold. I, for example, am perfectly happy to admire the creativity of evolution while thankful that I don’t have to see one of these things in the flesh.

MORE: Newly discovered millipede worm is first at over 1,000 feet

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