Palaeozoic Predator Demoted

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Palaeozoic predator demoted, according to articles in ScienceDaily 10 July 2014 and Biology Letters doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0412, 9 July 2014. The giant pterygotid eurypterid is an extinct sea scorpion that grew to be over 2 metres (6ft 6in) long, making it the largest arthropod to have lived. When it was discovered it was assumed to be a ferocious predator because of its large size, long toothed claws and large forward facing compound eyes. Palaeontologists at Yale University have examined the fossil sea scorpion eyes using a scanning electron microscope and measured the angle between the lenses within the compound eye. According to Ross Anderson, one of the researchers, “The smaller the angle, the better the eyesight”.

The measurements indicated the sea scorpion had rather poor vision. The researchers compared the sea scorpion results with other arthropods, both fossil and living, and found the sea scorpion vision was well below that of known arthropod predators such as dragonflies and mantis shrimp. These results, combined with a previous study that cast doubt on the ability of the scorpion’s claws to penetrate shellfish, led the scientists to suggest the giant sea scorpion may have been big, but it wasn’t so tough, and spent its time trawling for soft bodied creatures on the sea floor. Anderson commented: “Maybe this thing was not a big predator, after all. It’s possible it was more of a scavenger that hunted at night. It forces us to think about these ecosystems in a very different way”.

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Anderson’s comment about thinking of ecosystems in a different way is a good one. We are so used to thinking of ecosystems in terms of predators and prey because that is how they work now, but according to Genesis it was not always so. Genesis tells us all animals were originally created to eat plants, and the giant pterygotid eurypterid was sufficiently well equipped to be a vegetarian, feeding on seaweed and sea grasses. It may have later become a scavenger as a result of a degenerating ecosystem coming from the devastation of the earth’s surface associated with Noah’s flood, which would have ruined a lot of shallow marine environments, and some would never have recovered. Ecosystems have changed, but they have not evolved. (Ref. arthropods, diet, ecology)

Evidence News vol. 14, No. 13
23 July 2014
Creation Research Australia

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