Rock & Gem

The “Biggest Bug Ever”!


It’s being described as “the biggest bug that ever lived.” Welcome to Arthropleu­ra, a fossil millipede 326 million years old and a whopping nine feet long! Its weight is estimated at 110 pounds. is makes it the largest invertebra­te ever discovered, living or dead.

A team led by Neil S. Davies (Cambridge University, UK) described Arthropleu­ra in the Journal of the Geological Society based on fragments contained within a sandstone block that had fallen to the beach at Howick Bay in Northumber­land some 40 miles north of Newcastle in northern England. By happenstan­ce, that block was spotted by a former Ph.D. student from the Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences. It has been dated to the Carbonifer­ous Period.

The Carbonifer­ous was a time of dense tropical swamps and forests across large swaths of the Earth that le‘ behind many of today’s vast coal deposits. Because of the lush vegetation, there was an unusually high amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. ose high oxygen levels super-fueled living critters. For instance, in those days dragon”ies had wingspans of two and a half feet. Scientists aren’t sure if high oxygen levels fueled the growth of Arthropleu­ra, but rest assured, this is one bug you would not have wanted to encounter during a walk in the forest!

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