giant water scorpion

Encyclopedia

giant water scorpion

any member of the extinct subclass Eurypterida of the arthropod group Merostomata, a lineage of large, scorpion-like, aquatic invertebrates that flourished during the Silurian Period (444 to 416 million years ago). Well over 200 species have been identified and divided into 18 families. They include the largest arthropod species known, Jaekelopterus rhenaniae (also called Pterygotus rhenanius or P. buffaloenis), which measures nearly 2.5 metres (8 feet) in length. Several other eurypterid forms were almost as large. The fossils of giant water scorpions are usually found in brackish and freshwater deposits, but the animals probably first lived in shallow coastal areas and estuaries and moved into freshwater environments later. Only a few species appear to have been good swimmers. They are presumed to have been fearsome predators, with large grasping pincers that may have entrapped early vertebrates and various shelled animals. Their distant relative, the horseshoe crab of the order Xiphosura, has survived to the present day.

Learn more about giant water scorpion with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: giant water bug
Next Definition: giant willowherb
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for giant water scorpion
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing giant water scorpion
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature