Saturday, 18 November 2017
PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 18: Arthropleura
PrehiScotInktoberfest 18 returns to the land of BIG GIANT CREEPY CRAWLY BEASTIE BUGS WARNING FOR BUGAPHOBES
We've all heard of Nessie; and the weird creatures of Scots folklore - Kelpies, Selkies, Bashees, Bogles, Redcaps, the Blue Men of the Minch. Scotland has long played host to monsters - and great long trackways in the stone shores from Crail in Fife to the Isle of Arran are all that remains of one of Scotland's first giants.
Arthropleura ("Jointed Ribs") is easily the largest invertebrate ever to crawl the earth. It's mahoosive. The beastie that laid the Crail tracks is estimated to be *only* 4 feet long - as in, it's a *wee guy* compared to its bigger cousins, who could grow to lengths of 2.3m, or 7 1/2 feet. For comparison, that wee tetrapod in the top of the picture is roughly the size of a Scottish Terrier. There is no naturally occurring animal living in Scotland today that approaches that size, let alone any arthropod. Of course, the Carboniferous period of 315 to 299 million years ago had a much higher oxygen content than nowadays, and since Scotland was a hot, steamy jungle at the time, Arthro would've had a great time.
Despite the fearsomeness of its size, Arthropleura's generally believed to be a herbivore - certainly there was more than enough plant matter around for it to feast upon, and few tetrapods would have posed any sort of threat. Alas, with the great drying out which heralded the Permian Period, Arthro faded into the mists of prehistory...
"Ho big yin, gies a pund!"
"Nae change mate."
"Nae worries pal. (yeh ticht guid-fer-nowt...)"