03/13/2015

When a Seven-Foot-Long Arthropod Swam the Seas

7:11 minutes

In the Ordovician period, some 443–485 million years ago, life was different. Peter Van Roy, co-author of a paper published this week in the journal Nature, describes a fossil found in Morocco dating back to that time—and it’s one of the largest arthropods ever discovered. A filter-feeder related to modern insects and crustaceans, the creature grew to more than six-and-a-half feet long. Aegirocassis benmoulae, as the animal is called, could help researchers better understand the evolution of arthropods’ body structures.

Segment Guests

Peter Van Roy

Peter Van Roy is an associate research scientist at the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

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About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.