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Temporal range: Upper Carboniferous–Upper Permian
Hibbertopterus scouleri.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Merostomata
Order: Eurypterida
Suborder: Stylonurina
Superfamily: Hibbertopteroidea
Family: Hibbertopteridae
Genus: Hibbertopterus

Hibbertopterus is a genus of giant sea scorpion (order Eurypterida) that inhabited the swamps of Scotland during the Carboniferous.

Hibbertopterus is a member of the family Hibbertopteridae, large bizarre Eurypterids found from the Upper Devonian to the end of the Permian period.[1] They were sweep feeders, inhabiting freshwater swamps and rivers, feeding by raking through the soft sediment with blades on their anterior appendages to capture small invertebrates.[2] Their morphology was so unusual that they have been thought to be an order separate to Eurypterida.[3] Recent work however confirms them to be a derived member of the suborder Stylonurina, with the genus Drepanopterus being a basal member of their superfamily.


The hibbertopteroid track. Note geological hammer for scale

Hibbertopterus is believed to have been one of the first aquatic animals to exhibit terrestrial locomotion, as tracks indicating a dragging movement have been found in West Lothian, Scotland .[4] The track found was roughly six metres long and a metre wide, and suggests that the eurypterid was 1.6 metres in length.

The specimen itself is the base of overlying and infilling sandstone and thus shows the tracks in negative relief: a groove appears as a ridge.


  • Hibbertopterus Kjellesvig-Waering, 1959
    • ?Hibbertopterus hibernicus (Baily, 1872) — Carboniferous, Ireland
    • Hibbertopterus permianus Ponomarenko, 1985 — Permian, Russia
    • Hibbertopterus scouleri (Hibbert, 1836) — Carboniferous, Scotland

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tetlie, O E (2007). "Distribution and dispersal history of Eurypterida (Chelicerata)". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 252 (3–4): 557–574. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2007.05.011. 
  2. ^ Selden, P.A., Corronca, J.A. & Hünicken, M.A (2005). "The true identity of the supposed giant fossil spider Megarachne". Biology Letters 1 (1): 44–48. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2004.0272. PMC 1629066. PMID 17148124. 
  3. ^ Tollerton, V P. "Morphology, Taxonomy, and Classification of the Order Eurypterida Burmeister, 1843". Journal of Paleontology 63: 642–657. 
  4. ^ Whyte, M A (2005). "Palaeoecology: A gigantic fossil arthropod trackway" (PDF). Nature 438 (7068): 576. doi:10.1038/438576a. PMID 16319874.