A prehistoric ancestor of scorpions was the sea scorpion, also known as the eurypterid. Sea scorpions were up to 9 feet long. The oldest scorpion fossil is 400 million years old.
Scorpions split from their very close relatives, the euryptids, during the Silurian epoch, 425-450 years ago. It’s thought that scorpions evolved as euryptids made their way onto the land -they may have been the very first animals to do so, certainly long before our own fishy ancestors gave it a thought.
Many early terrestrial scorpions looked just like modern scorpions. The earliest scorpion we know of, Palaeopisthacanthus (from the late carboniferous), is a good example:
But let’s look at some euryptids, as they’re incredibly closely reated to scorpions. It’s easy to tell just by looking at them -some even had a poison sting! Not to mention they’re very… unusual…
Here’s Megalograpts, which got to be about 4 feet long. Looks kind of like a cross between a scorpion and a lobster, huh? And that pretty much describes this ocean hunter’s lifestyle, too.
This is Jaekelopterus, the largest euryptid known. It could get up to 7 feet long! Although popularly refered to as a sea scorpion, it probably lived in freshwater rivers and lakes.
My favorite might be Myxopterus, though, which lived during the Silurian epoch 444 to 417 million years ago. It wasn’t that big, but it was one of the first scorpions to evolve poison, and its pedipalps -which are normally the mouthparts of scorpions and other arthropods- had evolved into some very interesting-looking grasping appendages.
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