Temporal range: Middle Devonian, 390Ma
|Fossil of Jaekelopterus|
|Species:||† J. rhenaniae|
Jaekelopterus rhenaniae ("Otto Jaekel's wing from the Rhineland") was a species of the extinct arthropod group Eurypterida. Jaekelopterus lived approximately 390 million years ago. At an estimated length of 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in), it is one of the two largest arthropods ever discovered (the other is a giant millipede-like animal, Arthropleura, although which animal was larger is unclear).
Jaekelopterus is currently the largest known eurypterid, even bigger than the more famous Pterygotus. Again this demonstrates how the arthropods grew to giant proportions which continue to remain unknown in today’s living arthropods.
The J. rhenaniae claw was found near Prüm in Germany. To work out the size of the arthropod it belonged to, Braddy and colleagues collected information on other sea scorpions and the ratio between their claw size and body length. This turned out to be relatively constant, leading the researchers to conclude that a creature with a 46-centimetre claw probaby had a body length of between 233 and 259 centimetres. When extended, the chelicerae would have added 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) to its length.
Although the fossil has been called a "sea scorpion", the strata in which it was found suggest that the living animal dwelled in fresh-water rivers and lakes, rather than in saltwater seas. The animal was described in November 2007 by Simon Braddy and Markus Poschmann of the University of Bristol in the journal Biology Letters: they found a 46-centimetre (18 in) chelicera (claw-like mouth part), and estimated the total size of the animal based on the proportions of this claw.[Note 1]
- "Jaekelopterus". Prehistoric Wildlife. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- Cressey, Daniel (November 21, 2007). "Giant sea scorpion discovered". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2007.272. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
- Braddy, Simon J.; Poschmann, Markus; Tetlie, O. Erik (2007). "Giant claw reveals the largest ever arthropod". Biology Letters 4 (1): 106–109. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0491. PMC 2412931. PMID 18029297.
- "Giant sea scorpion claw unearthed". BBC News. November 21, 2007. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Khamsi, Roxanne (November 21, 2007). "Giant claw points to monster sea scorpion". New Scientist.