Scorpion Fossils

Scorpions have been found in many fossil records, including marine Silurian and estuarine Devonian deposits, coal deposits from the Carboniferous Period and in amber. The oldest known scorpions lived around 430 million years ago in the Silurian period. Though once believed to have lived on the bottom of shallow tropical seas,[ early scorpions are now believed to have been terrestrial and to have washed into marine settings together with plant matter. These first scorpions were believed to have had gills instead of the present forms' book lungs though this has subsequently been refuted. The oldest Gondwanan scorpiones (Gondwanascorpio) comprise the earliest known terrestrial animals from Gondwana. Currently, 111 fossil species of scorpion are known. Unusually for arachnids, there are more species of Palaeozoic scorpion than Mesozoic or Cenozoic ones.

The eurypterids, marine creatures that lived during the Paleozoic era, share several physical traits with scorpions and may be closely related to them. Various species of Eurypterida could grow to be anywhere from 10 centimetres (3.9 in) to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length.[ However, they exhibit anatomical differences marking them off as a group distinct from their Carboniferous and Recent relatives. Despite this, they are commonly referred to as "sea scorpions". Their legs are thought to have been short, thick, tapering and to have ended in a single strong claw; it appears that they were well-adapted for maintaining a secure hold upon rocks or seaweed against the wash of waves, like the legs of a shore crab. Read more ...

In the News ...

First microwhip scorpion from Mesozoic period found in Burmese amber   PhysOrg - March 9, 2016
It's smaller than a grain of rice, yellowish, trapped in amber and lived 100 million years ago alongside dinosaurs. Meet Electrokoenenia yaksha, a newly described type of microwhip scorpion, or palpigrade, from Myanmar, whose minute fossilized remains have been found, trapped in Burmese amber.

Fossil Linked to Claw Evolution   National Geographic - February 5, 2009
An ancient creature with bulging eyes and a "great appendage" could be a missing link in the evolution of grasping claws, according to a new study. The new fossil species Schinderhannes bartelsi seen above in fossil form and in an artist's reconstruction resembles an ancient group of animals that had pairs of large, interconnected limbs on their heads, a configuration known among paleontologists as the great appendage. Modern scorpions and other arthropods often have a grasping claw that looks like it might have evolved from the great appendage. But until now the fossil record had suggested that animals with this distinctive limb had all gone extinct in the middle of the Cambrian period, creating an evolutionary dead end. Schinderhannes was found in a German quarry within a slate deposit that dates to 390 million years ago - 100 million years after the great-appendage group was supposedly wiped off the map.

Man-sized sea scorpion claw found   BBC - November 21, 2007
The immense fossilized claw of a 2.5m-long (8ft) sea scorpion has been described by European researchers. The 390-million-year-old specimen was found in a German quarry, the journal Biology Letters reports. The creature, which is called Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, would have paddled in a river or swamp. The size of the beast suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought, the team says. The claw itself measures 46cm - indicating its owner would have been longer even than the average-sized human. Overall, the estimated size of the animal exceeds the record for any other sea scorpion (eurypterid) find by nearly 50cm.

Giant Sea Scorpion Discovered; Was Bigger Than a Man   National Geographic - November 21, 2007
A fearsome fossil claw discovered in Germany belonged to the biggest bug ever known. The size of a large crocodile, the 390-million-year-old sea scorpion was the top predator of its day, slicing up fish and cannibalizing its own kind in coastal swamp waters, fossil experts say. Jaekelopterus rhenaniae measured some 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) long, scientists estimate, based on the length of its 18-inch (46-centimeter), spiked claw. The find shows that arthropods animals such as insects, spiders, and crabs, which have hard external skeletons, jointed limbs, and segmented bodies once grew much larger than previously thought,

5-Foot Giant Water Scorpion Once Roamed U.K. Shores   National Geographic - December 1, 2005
If you think scorpions are scary, try this on for size: a six-legged water scorpion the size of a human. Newly discovered tracks reveal that about 330 million years ago, just such a creature lumbered along the riverbanks in present-day Scotland. The fossilized track is the largest of its kind ever found and shows these now extinct creatures could walk on land, according to Martin Whyte, a geologist at the University of Sheffield in England. The footprints were made by a species of Hibbertopterus, a family of water scorpions that are among the largest arthropods a group that includes insects and crustaceans ever known.


Egyptian goddess of healing venomous stings and bites
originally the deification of the scorpion.