Scientists Find Fossil of What May Be ‘Biggest Bug That Ever Lived’

by Michael Freeman

Finding a fossil is always an incredible discovery, but what if it happened to be of the creepy-crawly variety? A recent discovery fits that bill perfectly, with scientists finding what could be the “biggest bug that ever lived.”

CNN reported the story, with scientists discovering a giant millipede fossil on a beach in northern England. Researchers found the fossil in January 2018 within a chunk of sandstone. The team lucked out though, as the fossil was only visible within the rock after it fell from a Howick Bay cliff.

“It was a complete fluke of a discovery,” Neil Davies, a University of Cambridge lecturer. “It was an incredibly exciting find, but the fossil is so large it took four of us to carry it up the cliff face.” Scientists state the creature’s name to be Arthropleura, with it coming from the Carboniferous Period 326 million years ago. For reference, that is more than 100 million years before dinosaurs were walking around.

So, how big was this big bug? Estimates put it at 22 inches wide and 8.6 feet in length. Scientists also believe it weighed about 110 pounds. This makes it the largest invertebrate ever, eclipsing things like sea scorpions, which were known for their huge size. Additionally, this is only the third Arthropleura fossil found as of now.

Davies further said discovering something in immaculate condition like this is rare. “Finding these giant millipede fossils is rare, because once they died, their bodies tend to disarticulate (separate at the joints), so it’s likely that the fossil is a moulted carapace that the animal shed as it grew.”

Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge, England stated they will feature the fossil publicly in 2022.

Scientists Found the ‘First True Millipede,’ Which had More Than 1,300 Legs

The thought of a giant millipede is probably a bit uncomfortable, but another recent story may freak you out more. Scientists recently discovered the first millipede with over 1,300 legs in Australia. That’s a lot of legs.

Scientific Reports states the new species of millipede possesses 1,306 legs. “Millipede” actually translates to a thousand feet, so this is the first true millipede discovered. Most have significantly less, with 750 being the previous record. Scientists found the true millipede in the Goldfields region of Western Australia. Interestingly, they unearthed it from a 60-meter drill hole created to look for minerals.

Additionally, scientists collected volcanic rocks and troglophilic fauna while exploring. The study also managed to collect eight samples of the new millipede species, including two juveniles. Juanita Rodriguez, a research collaborator and CSIRO insect expert, thinks millipede discoveries are still an untapped field. According to her, though only 2,000 species are currently known, as many as 4,000 may exist.