Tuesday, October 26, 2010
October 26, 2010 : Brontoscorpio (Extinct)
Brontoscorpio anglicus ("English thunder scorpion") was a 1-metre long aquatic scorpion that lived during the Silurian period. When alive, B. anglicus would have resembled an oversized scorpion, albeit with relatively large (for a scorpion) compound eyes; it was an important predator of its time, given that the arthropods were among the largest animals on Earth during the Silurian.
All post-Paleozoic scorpions are terrestrial, while during the Silurian many of the known taxa made the transition from aquatic to terrestrial environments. It has been inferred that Brontoscorpio was capable of leaving the water and entering land, whether to evade other predators, such as large nautiloids, eurypterids, or even other aquatic scorpions; or pursue prey, such as other, smaller terrestrial scorpions. However, given its great size, B. anglicus had to return to the water when it tired of supporting its own weight, or at the very least whenever it moulted its exoskeleton (on land, it would risk being crushed by its own mass). Marine scorpions such as B. anglicus captured, stung, and ate small sea animals such as fish like acanthodians, heterostracans, smaller scorpions and trilobites.
As with other arachnids, such as modern scorpions, Brontoscorpio respired through gas exchange via pores in its exoskeleton and the inner linings of its book lungs. Its tail was tipped with a large, venomous stinger that was, according to Walking with Monsters, the size of a light bulb.