When Giant Scorpions Swarmed the Seas

  • Published: 03 April 2019
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    Sea scorpions thrived for 200 million years, coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Over time, they developed a number of adaptations--from crushing claws to flattened tails for swimming. And some of them adapted by getting so big that they still hold the record as the largest arthropods of all time.

    Thank you to these paleoartists for allowing us to use their wonderful illustrations:
    Franz Anthony: 252mya.com/gallery/franz-anthony
    Ceri Thomas: alphynix.tumblr.com/
    Lucas Lima: 252mya.com/gallery/lucas-lima
    Julio Lacerda: 252mya.com/gallery/julio-lacerda
    Nobu Tamura: spinops.blogspot.com/

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    Braddy, Simon J., Richard J. Aldridge, Sarah E. Gabbott, and Johannes N. Theron. "Lamellate book-gills in a late Ordovician eurypterid from the Soom Shale, South Africa: support for a eurypterid-scorpion clade." Lethaia 32, no. 1 (1999): 72-74.
    Braddy, Simon J., Markus Poschmann, and O. Erik Tetlie. "Giant claw reveals the largest ever arthropod." Biology Letters 4, no. 1 (2007): 106-109. royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsbl.2007.0491
    Brezinski, David K., and Albert D. Kollar. "Reevaluation of the Age and Provenance of the Giant Palmichnium kosinskiorum Eurypterid Trackway, from Elk County, Pennsylvania." Annals of Carnegie Museum 84, no. 1 (2016): 39-45.
    Briggs, Derek EG, and WD Ian Rolfe. "A giant arthropod trackway from the Lower Mississippian of Pennsylvania." Journal of Paleontology (1983): 377-390. jstor.org/stable/pdf/1304661.pdf?seq=1
    Elliott, David K., and Michael A. Petriello. "New poraspids (Agnatha, Heterostraci) from the Early Devonian of the western United States." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31, no. 3 (2011): 518-530.
    Lamsdell, James C., and Simon J. Braddy. "Cope's Rule and Romer's theory: patterns of diversity and gigantism in eurypterids and Palaeozoic vertebrates." Biology Letters (2009): doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0700
    Lamsdell, James C., Simon J. Braddy, and O. Erik Tetlie. "Redescription of Drepanopterus abonensis (Chelicerata: Eurypterida: Stylonurina) from the Late Devonian of Portishead, UK." Palaeontology 52, no. 5 (2009): 1113-1139.
    Legg, David A. "Sanctacaris uncata: the oldest chelicerate (Arthropoda). "Naturwissenschaften 101, no. 12 (2014): 1065-1073.
    Manning, P. L. and Dunlop, J. A. “The respiratory organs of eurypterids.” Palaeontology, 38, no. 2 (1995): 287–297.
    McCoy, Victoria E., James C. Lamsdell, Markus Poschmann, Ross P. Anderson, and Derek EG Briggs. "All the better to see you with: eyes and claws reveal the evolution of divergent ecological roles in giant pterygotid eurypterids." Biology letters 11, no. 8 (2015): 20150564.
    Poschmann, Markus, Brigitte Schoenemann, and Victoria E. McCoy. "Telltale eyes: the lateral visual systems of Rhenish Lower Devonian eurypterids (Arthropoda, Chelicerata) and their palaeobiological implications." Palaeontology 59, no. 2 (2016): 295-304.
    Selden, P. A., and John David Lawson. "Eurypterid respiration." Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 309, no. 1138 (1985): royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rstb.1985.0081
    Tetlie, O. Erik. "Distribution and dispersal history of Eurypterida (Chelicerata)." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 252, no. 3-4 (2007): 557-574. pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6434/bc6cdbfd7613c5dc725333a5b003975c6c50.pdf
    Vrazo, Matthew B., and Simon J. Braddy. "Testing the ‘mass-moult-mate’hypothesis of eurypterid palaeoecology." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 311, no. 1-2 (2011): 63-73.
    Whyte, Martin A. "Palaeoecology: a gigantic fossil arthropod trackway." Nature 438, no. 7068 (2005): 576.
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Comments • 969

  • PBS Eons
    PBS Eons   8 months back

    Hi everyone! Thanks for the heads up about the flash frames in the video. The issue appears to have resolved on its own? I hope you were still able enjoy this video about these enormous and terrifying arthropods. -Seth

    • Anthony Mcdonnell
      Anthony Mcdonnell  3 months back

      then why do water scorpions exist

    • Michael Cuggy
      Michael Cuggy  7 months back

      As a paleontologists who works on eurypterids I was excited to see this video, but was disappointed about how misleading it was in many ways. The major Silurian diversification of eurypterids could not have been driven by the Devonian raise of Devonian jawed fish being the most obvious problem, among many. I think this video should be reedited. Michael Cuggy

    • Eerimen Bzej
      Eerimen Bzej  7 months back

      "this video about these enormous and terrifying"

      Bee afraid everyone. Dial 0999-666 for your nearest thera pist

    • James Ward-Parrish
      James Ward-Parrish  8 months back

      How do crabs and lobsters fit into this?

    • Lord Karasu
      Lord Karasu  8 months back

      PBS Eons subbed

  • Marshall Cleveland
    Marshall Cleveland  2 days back

    the tree at 2:24 hurts my brain :\

    • MtnTow
      MtnTow  5 days back

      Go find a bigger pot and ill work on the fire....

      • Mateo A.
        Mateo A.  5 days back

        Sooo.. Just saw a video from 2017 where apparently what seems to be a prehistoric sea scorpion kills a shark... Now I'm scared.

        • Thelifeconfused Hans
          Thelifeconfused Hans  1 weeks back


          Idk i hear it like this
          I'm sorry

          • Mr Mister
            Mr Mister  1 weeks back


            • Mr Mister
              Mr Mister  1 weeks back

              I mean scorpions are related to lobsters and stuff so like

              • CthulhuianBunny
                CthulhuianBunny  2 weeks back

                "A big weirdo called Hibbertopterus." Recognizable by its laugh and lab coat.

                • Marcos Persson
                  Marcos Persson  2 weeks back

                  Wait i hawe sen that little fing

                  • Ray Parker Jr
                    Ray Parker Jr  2 weeks back

                    Can they sting though?

                    • Wolfred Bromley
                      Wolfred Bromley  2 weeks back


                      • everett Fletcher
                        everett Fletcher  3 weeks back

                        I love these guys, they're so fascinating..

                        • Per Erik
                          Per Erik  3 weeks back

                          I want outtakes and blooper reels. With all these difficult names i bet theres more than a few blooper reels 😉

                          • Ashengel Ignisnocte
                            Ashengel Ignisnocte  1 months back

                            I always saw lobsters as mermaid scorpions... I was hoping at the end seeing them linked but I guess I should better study this... 😅😅😅

                            • Christian Piette
                              Christian Piette  1 months back

                              The extant Japanese spider crab grows to 18ft, so when you say large what do you mean maybe the Heaviest could sound better.

                              • bev davis
                                bev davis  1 months back

                                why did horsehoe crabs survive

                                • Lytlo Charlotte
                                  Lytlo Charlotte  1 months back

                                  isn’t this just a lobster???? If the tail isn’t a poison spike

                                  • Ed Tolson
                                    Ed Tolson  2 months back

                                    I'm always impressed by the speed and fluency of the narration, especially when there are several Latin names in succession!

                                    • Woko100
                                      Woko100  2 months back

                                      Life teaches you a lesson to humble yourself and you will last the longest

                                      • Regular Dude Doing Regular Stuffs

                                        I hear Jaekelopterus as Yeetkelopterus 😂🤣

                                        • Lone wolf
                                          Lone wolf  2 months back

                                          I'm sorry, I hate all bugs equally.

                                          • Prinzessin Pummelfee
                                            Prinzessin Pummelfee  2 months back

                                            Btw "Kiemenplatten“ is German and means gill plates

                                            • X X
                                              X X  2 months back

                                              I'm rather disappointed. I expected to hear "Silurian: Age of Sea Scorpions" by the Ocean Collective playing in the background.
                                              How am I supposed to enjoy the sheer magnitude of these creatures without headbanging to some extremely fine post-metal?

                                              • François-Xavier Dessureault

                                                whoah wait how do paleontologists have any idea about the blood (haemolymph?) salinity of eurypterids? I'm sure there's an explanation but I can't guess how that can be figured out from the fossil record

                                                • Thanks Obama
                                                  Thanks Obama  2 months back

                                                  For the Metrically challenged...2.5 meters is about 8.2 ft.

                                                  • Marino Torre
                                                    Marino Torre  2 months back

                                                    When sea spiders (Pycnogonida or Pantopoda) are mentioned towards the end of the video, a picture of an arrow crab is shown, which is a crustacean, not a chelicerate.

                                                    • Micha B
                                                      Micha B  2 months back

                                                      "Kiemenplatten" is just German for "gill plates". Also, FYI it's pronounced "kee-men"

                                                      • Navin Israni
                                                        Navin Israni  2 months back


                                                        • IronGiant7
                                                          IronGiant7  3 months back

                                                          Woahh, I love this channel!

                                                          • Gabriel Rioux
                                                            Gabriel Rioux  3 months back

                                                            Where does lobsters come from? Are they related to sea scorpions?

                                                            • Lalu
                                                              Lalu  3 months back

                                                              The nope in the ocean

                                                              • Woko100
                                                                Woko100  3 months back

                                                                Place them in the Australian sea and It would have a proper fight

                                                                • Steven Madrid
                                                                  Steven Madrid  3 months back

                                                                  Big weirdo😂😂😂7:48, killing it girl. Nice video

                                                                  • Trash your Fash and Bash
                                                                    Trash your Fash and Bash  3 months back

                                                                    TIL that car-sized gigascorpions and butterflies are part of the same animal family. I guess we're all connected if you go back far enough. What even is life?

                                                                    • Samuel Bousfield
                                                                      Samuel Bousfield  3 months back

                                                                      I want a giant tank like Roomba

                                                                      • Rufus The Hunal Prophet
                                                                        Rufus The Hunal Prophet  3 months back

                                                                        Why do people call The Big Oof The Great Dying?

                                                                        • Patrick Long
                                                                          Patrick Long  3 months back


                                                                          • Brad Gilbert
                                                                            Brad Gilbert  3 months back

                                                                            I'm totally ok with giant scorpions being extinct

                                                                            • Rune scape
                                                                              Rune scape  3 months back

                                                                              Wouldnt our ancestors be weird variants living amongst these horrors?

                                                                              • jesse wilson
                                                                                jesse wilson  3 months back

                                                                                Would if they tasted like large lobsters

                                                                                • HardToMell o
                                                                                  HardToMell o  3 months back

                                                                                  Sea scorpions were the first creatures to walk on land

                                                                                  • Victor Bruant
                                                                                    Victor Bruant  3 months back


                                                                                    • jbe678910
                                                                                      jbe678910  4 months back


                                                                                      • ZoommaiR
                                                                                        ZoommaiR  4 months back


                                                                                        • spookysugar_PrizOM
                                                                                          spookysugar_PrizOM  4 months back

                                                                                          I wonder if this is the reason why Scorpio is a water sign. 🤔

                                                                                          • Leon Wi.
                                                                                            Leon Wi.  4 months back

                                                                                            why are their respiratory Systems called "Kiemenplatten"? That is literally the german Translation of "gill-plates". so why not just that?

                                                                                            • James Daniel
                                                                                              James Daniel  4 months back

                                                                                              How do you get Steve's autograph?

                                                                                              • Shaoheng Ma
                                                                                                Shaoheng Ma  4 months back

                                                                                                I do not like the placoderms.