Arthropleura

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Not to be confused with Anthopleura.
Arthropleura
Temporal range: Moscovian-Asselian, 315–295 Ma
Arthropleura armata.jpg
Fossil of A. armata at the Senckenberg Museum of Frankfurt
Arthropleura NT small.jpg
Life restoration of A. armata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Myriapoda
Class: Diplopoda
Subclass: Arthropleuridea
Order: Arthropleurida
Waterlot, 1934
Family: Arthropleuridae
Zittel, 1848
Genus: Arthropleura
Meyer, 1854
Species[1]
  • A. armata Meyer, 1854 Synonyms:
    • A. affinis Goldenberg 1873
    • A. moyseyi Calman, 1914
    • A. zeilleri Boule 1893
  • A. britannica Andrée, 1913
  • A. cristata Richardson, 1959
  • A. enodis Guthörl, 1934
  • A. maillieuxi Pruvost, 1930
  • A. mammata Salter, 1863
  • A. punctata Goldenberg 1873

Arthropleura (Greek for jointed ribs) is a genus of extinct millipede arthropods that lived in what is now northeastern North America and Europe around 315 to 295 million years ago, during the late Carboniferous to early Permian periods. The larger species of the genus are the largest known land invertebrates of all time, and would have had few, if any, predators.

Description[edit]

Size compared to a human

Arthropleura species ranged in length from 0.3 to 2.3 metres (0.98 to 7.55 ft)[2] and a width up to 50 centimetres (1.6 ft).[3] Arthropleura was able to grow larger than modern arthropods, partly because of the greater partial pressure of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere at that time, and because of the lack of large terrestrial vertebrate predators.[4]

The flattened body of Arthropleura is composed of approximately 30 jointed segments, each of which was covered by two side plates and one center plate. The ratio of pairs of legs to body segments was approximately 8:6, similar to some present-day millipedes.[5]

Paleobiology[edit]

Fossil footprints of Arthropleura, Laggan Harbour, Isle of Arran, Scotland. This trail is the type specimen of the ichnospecies Diplichnites cuithensis.

Contrary to earlier and popular beliefs, Arthropleura was not a predator but a herbivorous arthropod. Because none of the known fossils have the mouth preserved, scientists suppose that Arthropleura did not have strongly sclerotized and powerful mouth parts, because such would have been preserved at least in some of the fossils. Some fossils have been found with lycopod fragments and pteridophyte spores in the gut and in associated coprolites.[6]

Fossilized footprints from Arthropleura have been found in many places. These appear as long, parallel rows of small prints, which show that it moved quickly across the forest floor, swerving to avoid obstacles, such as trees and rocks. Its tracks have the ichnotaxon name Diplichnites cuithensis.[7][8] Tracks from Arthropleura up to 50 cm wide have been found at Joggins, Nova Scotia.[3]

Extinction[edit]

Arthropleura became extinct at the end of the Carboniferous period, when the moist climate began drying out, reducing the rainforests of the Carboniferous, and allowing the desertification characteristic of the Permian.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Arthropleura". Fossilworks: Gateway to the Paleobiology Database. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  2. ^ Braddy et al. (2008)
  3. ^ a b "The Excitement of Discovery". Virtual Museum of Canada. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved 2006-04-17. 
  4. ^ M. G. Lockley & Christian Meyer (2013). "The tradition of tracking dinosaurs in Europe". Dinosaur Tracks and Other Fossil Footprints of Europe. Columbia University Press. pp. 25–52. ISBN 9780231504607. 
  5. ^ Sues, Hans-Dieter. "Largest Land-Dwelling "Bug" of All Time". National Geographic. Ford Cochran. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  6. ^ A. C. Scott; W. G. Chaloner & S. Paterson (1985). "Evidence of pteridophyte–arthropod interactions in the fossil record" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 86B: 133–140. 
  7. ^ Adrian P. Hunt; Spencer G. Lucas; Allan Lerner; Joseph T. Hannibal (2004). "The giant Arthropleura trackway Diplichnites cuithensis from the Cutler Group (Upper Pennsylvanian) of New Mexico". Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. 36 (5): 66. 
  8. ^ Briggs, D. E.; Plint, A. G. & Pickerill, R. K. (1984). "Arthropleura trails from the Westphalian of eastern Canada." (PDF). Palaeontology. 27 (4): 843–855. 
  9. ^ Thom Holmes (2008). "The first land animals". March Onto Land: the Silurian Period to the Middle Triassic Epoch. The Prehistoric Earth. Infobase Publishing. pp. 57–84. ISBN 9780816059591. 

External links[edit]