Nature Blog Network

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Man-Sized Sea Scorpion Fossil Found In Germany

Picture from article with the following caption, "The ancient sea scorpion, at 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length, was bigger than the average man is tall."

In my inbox this morning was this interesting article from titled Scientist finds fossilized claw of man-sized sea scorpion. Naturally, I was curious about man-sized fossil arthropods! While the find itself is great, the reporting was rather amusing. Large things and fossils always draw out the creativity in reporting, although many of the clichés have been well worn-in through time. I could quote mine this till the cows come home! For instance the opening line:
"This was a bug you couldn't swat and definitely couldn't step on."
How cliché is that? Why is always assumed whenever a 'bug' is mentioned swatting and stepping usually ensue? The following line mentions paleontologists "stumbling" upon the find. As if paleontologists are just out bumbling around without a clue. The author negates himself later in the article by describing how detailed the fossil hunt was, including seeing dark patches in the rock that signaled to them a patch of fossilized organic matter.

Of course they do make themselves favorable by printing this quote from Simon Braddy, one of the studies coauthors (to be printed the next Royal Society's Biology Letters):
"Hundreds of millions of years ago, these sea scorpions had the upper hand over vertebrates -- backboned animals like ourselves."
This next quote bothers me, can anyone figure out why? I will send an Aliens of the Deep IMAX movie poster and NOAA Ocean Explorer sticker to a person selected by my excel random number generator from all the correct replies. Contest closes Friday, November 23, at midnight. Email responses to kzelnio:at:gmail:dot:com. The winning response will be published on my blog and I might quote mine other interesting replies at my own discretion. The rules are that I am requiring a minimum 250 to maximum 500 word short answer on why this statement is misleading:
"The research found a type of sea scorpion that was almost half a yard longer than previous estimates and the largest one ever to have evolved."


  1. I know! How the hell do they think anybody knows it's "the largest one to have evolved?" There's no reason to think one way or the other. I imagine that a sea scorpion has a physical size limit, but I don't know what that is.

  2. 'How cliché is that?'

    Note as bad as this:

    Being a German scorpion, it was probably boring but highly efficient, with an excellent resale value.

  3. ... but it made excellent beer and danced a jolly polka...

  4. (Glumly) Your score on the invers vs. verts has just has a decisive result in favour of the inverts...


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. the largest one ever to have evolved

    Of course, it wasn't a patch on all those ones that hadn't evolved.


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