It was in January 2018 that a large chunk of sandstone fell off a cliff onto a beach in Northumberland located in the north of the United Kingdom.
It opened – and a giant fossil appeared.
Neil Davies, who teaches sedimentary geology at the University of Cambridge, explains that the discovery was made by a former doctoral student at the school.
It took four people at the university to move it. They then discovered that the fossil is estimated to be 326 million years old, according to the study published in Journal of the Geological Society.
It’s about 100 million years before the time of the dinosaurs. The creature, named Arthropleura and described as a kind of centipede, is estimated to be around 2.6 meters long. The weight is estimated at no less than 50 kilos.
This means it is the largest invertebrate animal that has ever lived, a title that sea scorpions once held.
“It is certainly the largest invertebrate animal that has ever lived,” Neil Davies wrote in an email to CNN.
The find is well preserved and unusual
This is the third arthropleura ever discovered, and the others were smaller. This individual must therefore have eaten a lot and nutritiously, according to the researchers. When the creature was alive, Britain was at the equator and access to food was different.
Researchers believe that this animal was also preserved because the shell was filled with sand and preserved.
“Finding these giant centipedes is unusual because when they die their bodies tend to collapse,” says Neil Davies.
A fossilized head has yet to be found, which means a lot is still unknown about the species.
An earlier version of the text said “insect”. The right is “arthropod” or “invertebrate”.
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