Wednesday, 22 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 22: Cowiedesmus eroticopodus

PrehiScotInktoberfest 22 takes us to Silurian Stonehaven, some 423 million years ago, to the beginning of life on land.

The rocks of Cowie Harbour bear fossils that seem small and unremarkable at first: three millipedes, none approaching the gargantuan proportions of their descendent Arthropleura - but their age means they are among the oldest known terrestrial animals.

One of these millipedes is Cowiedesmus eroticopodus ("Cowie Bridge with the Erotic Feet"), only 4cm long. Cowie was quite difficult to draw, as aside from palaeontological diagrams and photos of the fossil, I can't seem to find any other reconstructions of the beastie. Could this be the first piece of Cowiedesmus palaeoart? Hopefully it isn't too inaccurate!

You might notice one pair of its legs is rather different from the others: they are unique to Cowie among the Stonehaven Bugs, from a single fossil which only preserves from the head to the 8th segment. It is theorised that these legs had some sort of mating use: either they were claspers which helped them hold on to each other, or they were gonopods, which were... well, you're on the internet, you can Google it.

"Weel hullo err hen! Gonnae check oot the gonopod show owur here!" *flexes adorably*

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