New York State Fossil
Sea Scorpion (common name)
Eurypterus remipes (scientific name)
Eurypterus remipes is an extinct sea scorpion that lived in the late Silurian period of the Paleozoic era, approximately 415 to 430 million years ago. As its common name, sea scorpion, implies,Eurypterus remipes is also closely related to modern scorpions and other arachnids.
Eurypterus remipes belongs to the taxonomic order Eurypterida. Eurypterids lived from the Ordovician period to the Permian period of the Paleozoic era, and were among the largest and most fearsome of the Paleozoic predators. Thanks to excellent fossil preservation, eurypterid external structure is the best known of all extinct animals. However, because the insides of these creatures are rarely preserved as fossils, little is known about their internal structure.
A STATE SYMBOL
The first eurypterid fossil was discovered in New York State in the early 19th century. New York is one of the few places in the world where Eurypterus remipes fossils are commonly found, and for this reason, Eurypterus remipes was adopted as the New York State fossil in 1984.
American zoologist and geologist James Ellsworth DeKay namedEurypterus remipes in 1825. The genus name Eurypterus comes from the Greek words ευρεία (eureia),which means "broad" or "wide," and φτερό (ptero), which means "wing."
Eurypterus remipes had compound eyes as well as another set of eyes. It had a segmented exoskeleton with curved ridges or scales. This extinct sea scorpion had walking legs and a long, pointed tail that was probably used for defense. It also had two paddles; it is not known if these were used for swimming or for digging.
Eurypterus remipes is believed to have crawled along the muddy freshwater seafloor or along the bottom of the shallow, brackish seas that covered most of Paleozoic North America. This prehistoric creature used its pincers to feed on trilobites and cephalopods.Eurypterus remipes was normally about a half inch to a foot (8 to 280 mm) long, but some eurypterids reached over 6 feet (2 m) in length, making them the largest arthropods that ever lived.
Modern sea scorpions, horseshoe crabs, and king crabs are all descendants of this prehistoric arthropod. Arthropods have segmented bodies, jointed appendages, and exoskeletons. The last eurypterids became extinct at the end of the Silurian period, just over 400 million years ago.
The first eurypterid fossil was discovered in 1818 in New York State. Eurypterid fossil specimens have since been found on every continent, but some of the best Eurypterus remipes fossils can be found in present-day central and western New York State and southern Ontario.
Click to enlarge an image
|Author: World Trade Press|