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Millipede fossil the size of a car found in England

Rory morrow Rory morrow Meteored United Kingdom 4 min
England
Howick Beach, where the millipede specimen was found.

A chance find on a Northumberland beach has led to the discovery of the largest millipede to ever walk the earth. Identified from fossilized remains, the giant arthropod would have measured an incredible 2.6m in length.

The specimen was found in 2018, hidden within a sandstone block that fell onto Howick Bay Beach. The rock revealed a fragment of millipede exoskeleton, which was 75 cm long and 55 cm wide. From this, the scientists were able to estimate the size of the animal, weighing about 50 kg.

The discovery of the fossil was a “total chance“said Dr. Neil Davies, a geologist in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. opened and perfectly exposed the fossil, which one of our most experienced PhD students saw passing by, “he added.

King of millipedes

The identified millipede belongs to the genus Arthropleura, an extinct group of ancient millipedes that walked the Earth during the Carboniferous period, ago between 359 million and 299 million years. Despite the fact that scientists already knew about it, the true size of these giants had not been confirmed until now.

When Arthropleura was alive, it would have been one of the largest land animals on the planet, with few or no predators. It is not clear if Arthropleura it was either an active herbivore or predator, as the absence of a head in all fossil specimens found so far makes it difficult to determine how the creature could have eaten.

“Finding these giant millipede fossils is rare, because once they die, their bodies tend to fall apart, so the fossil is likely a molted shell that the animal shed as it grew“Davies said.” We haven’t found a fossilized head yet, so it’s hard to know everything about them. “

Arthropleura
An impression of what Arthropleura might have been like.

It is also unclear how many legs it had Arthropleura. It is believed that the most complete specimens had 32 segments on their bodies, but it is not known whether they had one pair of legs each segment or one pair of legs every two segments.

So far, they have only been found three specimens of the millipede, and this latest example will be exhibited at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge next year.

It is believed that Arthropleura was able to reach such a huge size due to the high oxygen level at the time he lived. Other ancient arthropods, such as the ancestors of modern dragonflies, were also able to reach incredible sizes for this reason, although none reached the scale of Arthropleura.

By comparison, today’s millipedes and insects are much more modest in size, as the lower concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere limits their growth due to their dependence on simple forms of breathing, like broadcasting.

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HELEN HERNANDEZ

Helen Hernandez is our best writer. Helen writes about social news and celebrity gossip. She loves watching movies since childhood. Email: Helen@oicanadian.com Phone : +1 281-333-2229

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