Giant arthropods began to dominate the Earth’s seas over 470 million years ago

(ORDO NEWS) — Paleontologists have discovered a “graveyard” of ancient giant arthropod invertebrates in Morocco. This suggests that these creatures began to dominate the Earth‘s seas at least 470 million years ago.

Arthropods are one of the most ancient classes of multicellular living beings.

Their first representatives appeared in the thickness of the primary ocean of the Earth, presumably about 550-530 million years ago, at the very beginning of the “Cambrian explosion”.

They dominated for a long time both in the sea and on land, where they were the first among all multicellular animals about 430-425 million years ago.

As the researchers note, scientists have long been interested in how and when arthropod invertebrates began to dominate the ecosystems of the ancient seas of the Earth.

Understanding this is important for revealing the history of the evolution of modern insects, crustaceans, and other representatives of the invertebrate fauna of the planet.

Ancient sea giants

In the south of Morocco, in a region called Taichute, there are lagerstette shale, which formed about 470 million years ago in the shallow waters of one of the ancient seas.

Its waters covered almost the entire territory of modern North Africa.

At that time, this region of the continent was located in the vicinity of the south pole of the Earth and was covered with shallow water bodies.

The first excavations on the territory of Taichute showed that there are many imprints of the bodies and shells of giant arthropods, including large trilobites, “armored” paleoscolecid worms, bizarre predators from the class of dinocarids, as well as a host of other invertebrates.

The length of many of them was more than two meters, for this reason they were the largest animals of the early Ordovician era.

The discovery of the remains, according to paleontologists, indicates that large arthropods switched to a free-swimming lifestyle and began to dominate the Earth’s seas as early as 470 million years ago.

This is also supported by the fact that similar body prints were found at the beginning of the century in the neighboring region of Morocco, in the vicinity of the city of Zagora.

The discovery of similar sets of fossils in distant regions of Africa, according to scientists, suggests that neither region was the only example of the existence of such ecosystems in the seas of the Ordovician era.

This speaks of the important role that giant arthropods played in the work of the ancient ecosystems of the planet.


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