Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Supercontinental scorpion

By the Devonian period, roughly 400 million years ago, the supercontinent of Pangaea had broken into smaller land masses, including Laurasia and Gondwana, and later giving rise to the 7 continents we know today. Evidence of early land life had been found on Laurasia, which is today North America and Asia. But until now, no counterparts had been discovered on Gondwana. Enter a new species of scorpion (Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis), which provides clues about the earliest development of invertebrate life on land. "For the first time we know for certain that not just scorpions, but whatever they were preying on were already present in the Devonian," explains paleontologist Robert Gess of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University in Johannesburg. The scorpion fragments – a pincer (IMAGE ABOVE) and a sting – were found in South Africa.

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