The Speculist: Big Bugs!


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Big Bugs!

Here's an attention-getter:

Ancient Scorpion Was Bigger Than Car

Nov. 21, 2007 -- This was a bug you couldn't swat and definitely couldn't step on. British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's three authors.


The story goes on to talk about how these scorpions lived in a world that was also home to mega-millipedes and giant dragonflies. Not that we would really want them around, but one has to wonder what fate befell the big bugs. What's the difference between the world that we live in and the world they called home?

Well, not to put too fine a point on it: we're the difference. Not just human beings. Lions, tigers, bears, oh my. Also sharks. And crocodiles. And while they were here, dinosaurs. As fierce as the prehistoric giant bugs were (and as scary as we would find them if we encountered one today) they ultimately couldn't compete with vertebrates.

So bugs stuck around, and stayed competitive by being small.


Wow! As a kid I wondered how big bugs were during the time of the Dinosaurs. That's one big bug.

I guess they don't know if it had a stinger.

They had spiked tails. It's not known if they were venomous.

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