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/

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: superiorjanitorial.pro/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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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 • 968

  • 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

  • MtnTow
    MtnTow  2 days back

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

    • Mateo A.
      Mateo A.  2 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  4 days 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  1 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  2 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  3 months back


                                                                                    • ZoommaiR
                                                                                      ZoommaiR  3 months back


                                                                                      • spookysugar_PrizOM
                                                                                        spookysugar_PrizOM  3 months back

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

                                                                                        • Leon Wi.
                                                                                          Leon Wi.  3 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.

                                                                                              • Petter Birgersson
                                                                                                Petter Birgersson  4 months back

                                                                                                I love that you use the metric system.