November 30, 2005
— Ace Giant freakin' scorpions:
A scientist poring over 330-million-year-old tracks in a layer of sandstone in Scotland believes they were made by an extraordinary water scorpion that was as big as a man.
The huge six-legged creature was about 1.6 metres (64 inches) long and a metre (40 inches) wide, according to the study, published on Thursday in Nature, the weekly British science journal.
Giant. Freakin'. Scorpoions.
Posted by: popeye at November 30, 2005 10:39 AM (8OW/I)
Posted by: FreakyBoy at November 30, 2005 10:42 AM (NW/eu)
I knew it!
Just wait until they find a skeleton of a medusa. And a young Harry Hamelin.
Posted by: Enrak at November 30, 2005 10:46 AM (dTk8H)
You really ought to try the Jumbo Shrimp platter at Red Lobster, Ace. I guarantee, you would absolutely freak.
Posted by: utron at November 30, 2005 10:47 AM (VVBQC)
Posted by: tachyonshuggy at November 30, 2005 10:58 AM (/Vw/7)
Posted by: compos mentis at November 30, 2005 10:59 AM (xHpUK)
Clash of the Network Stars.
Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Battle.
Posted by: compos mentis at November 30, 2005 11:02 AM (xHpUK)
This is as good as when archeologists find a fossilized bone in the Grand Canyon and infer the height, weight, sex, cause of death, age, favorite meals, and hunting methods of the creature.
Let's start with age of existence. The problem I have with carbon testing is that it is unprovable past a certain date. What's the oldest, verifiable artifact we have? Eight-thousand years old? 10,000?
So how can scientists claim something is one million years old whn the only item thay have to test against is less than 10,000 years old?
The Museum of Science in Boston has a T-Rex on display. I saw it when I was in second grade. I believe, and I could be wrong, but most of the bones were fabricated to complete the structure.
Have any scientists or archeologists ever found a complete dinosaur? Fifty-perecent?
Peolpe have found the imprint of what looks like fish skeletons on the walls of the Grand Canyon. I bet I could find the letters F-R-A-N-C-E-S-U-C-K-S scratched in the rock in various places in the Grand Canyon. What does that prove?
C'mon geeks. Illuminate me.
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 11:02 AM (jD8Qz)
P.S. Dammit! I knew it was Clash, how could I have typed battle?
Posted by: Enrak at November 30, 2005 11:03 AM (dTk8H)
What are you, a Christmas tree?
Posted by: compos mentis at November 30, 2005 11:09 AM (xHpUK)
Giant water-borne creature found in Scotland?
Posted by: Mark at November 30, 2005 11:12 AM (uHh8R)
Posted by: compos mentis at November 30, 2005 11:18 AM (xHpUK)
Bart, they didn't use carbon dating for this, as that's only good back 50,000 years or so. Nowhere did the article mention carbon dating.
Have any scientists found a complete dinosaur skeleton? Yes, many. Starting in 1858, and dozens if not hundreds of times since then, all over the world.
Posted by: Mrk at November 30, 2005 11:23 AM (uHh8R)
Teddy Kennedy hisself.
Posted by: JackStraw at November 30, 2005 11:26 AM (wxnhi)
Are you seriously suggesting that dinosaur fossils are fake or something?
Or that they roamed the earth 6000 years ago?
Posted by: ace at November 30, 2005 11:34 AM (UxtY9)
And yes, intact fossils are very common.
Posted by: scott at November 30, 2005 11:40 AM (M7kiy)
Yep, just look at Janet Reno.
Posted by: compos mentis at November 30, 2005 11:43 AM (xHpUK)
It's probably something else. Freakish...but, something other than a scorpion.
Posted by: Michae K at November 30, 2005 11:52 AM (H6VxR)
I remember being surprised by that, but scorpions are actually arachnids, which puts them closer to spiders than to (say) centipedes. Scorpions are arthropods, like horseshoe crabs (the other members of of the arthropod family are insects and crustaceans).
I would say that this ancient "scorpion" was probably something more like a huge trilobite or other ancient arthropod. I doubt a scorpion could get that large; their "book lungs" could not oxygenate a body that large efficiently. (One of the reasons arachnids and insects cannot grow larger than a certain size is because they don't have large lungs the way we mammals do. Also, their exoskeletons are not as scalable as an internal bony skeleton.)
Posted by: Monty at November 30, 2005 12:04 PM (UdJCa)
Carbon testing is hardly proof for age when it cannot be tested against an proven sample.
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 12:05 PM (zg9BE)
Posted by: scott at November 30, 2005 12:05 PM (M7kiy)
Posted by: Monty at November 30, 2005 12:07 PM (UdJCa)
Posted by: Scott Free at November 30, 2005 12:07 PM (64hjG)
How did you feel about this person?
Posted by: lauraw at November 30, 2005 12:24 PM (CAzC7)
The article is one more piece of evidence that popular articles about science stuff are written by and for people with a grade-school education. It's talking about a creature called a eurypterid, part of a group commonly called “sea scorpions,” which went extinct about 250 million years ago. (Or so those lying paleontologists would have you believe.) They weren’t true scorpions, but they were a closely related group. All of them were aquatic, but some of them could leave the water and walk on land for a while. Some of the land-walkers used eight legs, some six. The biggest were, like the article said, 1.6 meters long. All of this has been known for decades.
The article is flatly wrong to suggest that it’s been widely believed that tetrapods (four legged types like us) were the first creatures to emerge from the water. Nobody believes that, and it’s been known for a long time that there were some pretty humongous arthropods crawling around before the amphibians came ashore and ruined things for everybody. God, ignorant dorks like this “journalist” irritate me.
Posted by: utron at November 30, 2005 12:25 PM (CgIkY)
Posted by: Mark_D at November 30, 2005 01:02 PM (BnZUW)
In fact, these man-sized sea scorpions were one of the older prehistoric fossil finds. They're called Eurypterids, and indeed they were huge, mean motherfuckers. They are arachnids, but are not direct forerunners of today's common scorpions, just as you can't draw a straight line between sea spiders (a very ancient arthropod species) and land-dwelling spiders.
The new information this article is really relating - though it garbles it - is that the Eurypterids probably had a capacity to breathe outside of the water. Heretofore we had assumed they were a purely seaborne species.
Oh, and for christ's sake, Bart, please don't torment us with this wink-and-a-nod Creationist crap. True, radiocarbon dating is But there's K-Ar dating, Uranium series dating, and more importantly, ice sheet cores, sea bed deposits, pollen anaylsis, dendrochronology, sedimentation, and a whole universe of complementary, mutually interlocking dating methods that robustly support fossil dating efforts. Note that while there remains much debate over the evolutionary lineage of many animals, there is little if any serious dispute about fossil dating among the paleontological community. Jack Chick notwithstanding.
And of course, thousands upon thousands of complete or nearly complete dinosaur fossils have been found. Among the most famous and compelling are, for example, the famed Archaeopteryx (one that Creationists bear a special hatred for), or even more awesomely the classic ichthyosaur who was killed in mid-birth, as she was squeezing out her young baby ichthyosaurs - a fossil that not only preserved a stunning scene, but also proved that certain seaborne reptiles evolved into LIVE BIRTH as opposed to eggs.
I hate ignorance. Keep it out of my sight from now on, okay?
Posted by: Jeff B. at November 30, 2005 01:21 PM (Ii+Xg)
On another page here notice that, just as spiders (arachnida) and sea spiders (pycnogonida) are considered separate classes, so are sea scorpions (eurypterida) and true scorpions (arachnida), though all are part of the chelicerata subfamily of arthropoda.
Bow down before my presitigious knowledge.
Posted by: Jeff B. at November 30, 2005 01:56 PM (Ii+Xg)
Posted by: Sobek at November 30, 2005 02:02 PM (6GK9U)
Tell me about it. Everyone in the room, here, was rolling in laughter when I read that to them.
Carbon testing is hardly proof for age when it cannot be tested against an proven sample.
I guess that it depends on what your standard of proof is. Certain laws of physics though--which have been tested time and again experimentally, can be proven mathematically, and must hold true theoretically-- say that it is carbon testing is accurate. Could it be wrong? Sure, but it would probably take a miracle which, of course, would prove the counterpoint.
Absent scientific proof of a higher power which renders those laws meaningless, they are without question the most reasonable and SOLID explanations we have. As a previous poster said, do you really think dinosaur fossils buried in the earth are fake? If not, do you really think that they somehow coexisted with man thruoghout their existence and yet we have no record of them, anywhere?
Posted by: Dave S at November 30, 2005 02:16 PM (r1ReH)
It's the other crap I challenge.
The dating of fossils cannot be accepted as unequivocal fact. A scientist with any integrity can't extapolate beyond the real data (an artifact to which to test against) and determine a date of origin. These paleontologists are throwing around figures like three hundred million like its nothing. They are guesses and gullable fools like you swallow it up as doctrine.
The details of how the dinosaur hunted and how fast it could run is pure speculation. More guesses. How can sit there and recite with a straight face the conclusion of how an extinct creature gave birth to offspring 100 million years ago with such certainty? The answer is you're arrogant.
I never mentioned creationism or evolution. You did. I was trying to point out that the claims made by present-day scientists concerning matters way beyond historical records are subject to legitimate skepticism.
I hate ignorance. Keep it out of my sight from now on, okay?
And fuck you, too, Jeff. You just gave us another example of a typical liberal tactic - brow-beating. Your attempt to shame me for not buying into everything that scientists report is not going to work. Jerk.
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 02:23 PM (uj28A)
Yeah. Let's see Jeneane Garofalo top that one. Jeff B is a comic genius. It's all in the deadpan delivery.
Posted by: at November 30, 2005 02:24 PM (rGBYl)
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 02:34 PM (ybA9l)
We got two people getting pissed at each other over carbon-dating methods and the correct Linnaean classification for giant frickin' scorpions. That's the kind of entertainment you just can't find anywhere else, folks.
Posted by: Monty at November 30, 2005 02:39 PM (djE5R)
MAN, YOU MAKE ME SO FREAKIN' ANGRY!!!
And Dave S, yeah, I'm pretty big on dendrochronology humor.
Posted by: Sobek at November 30, 2005 02:43 PM (6GK9U)
Some tools that are 2.5 million years old were found in Ethiopia by a group of scientists from Rutgers University and reported on today in the journal Nature. Here to tell us about it is Richard Potts, director of the Human Origins program at the Smithsonian Institution.
JIM LEHRER: How many--first of all, the basics. How many of these objects have been found?
RICHARD POTTS, Smithsonian Institution: There were nearly 2,000 stone artifacts uncovered by excavation, by digging into the ground in Ethiopia at the site called Gona.
JIM LEHRER: Now, how big are each one of these? What’s the average size?
RICHARD POTTS: Well, I have brought, in fact, some examples here, not of the artifacts from Gona.
JIM LEHRER: You didn’t bring them directly from Ethiopia?
RICHARD POTTS: Not from Ethiopia.
JIM LEHRER: But they are similar?
RICHARD POTTS: They’re very, very similar.
JIM LEHRER: All right.
RICHARD POTTS: And they’re almost as old. For example, this particular one right here is a stone tool from Northern Kenya, not too far away, which is a little bit over 2 million years before the present. And you can see that it fits nicely in the hand, and this is one kind of tool that was found. Then there were the sharp flakes that came off, that flew off a rock like this when it was struck. And they are of a size like this also. They sit nicely in the flake and are very sharp and used for a variety of purposes.
JIM LEHRER: Now, how do they know these, or the ones that were found, are tools? They look like rocks. They look like rocks.
RICHARD POTTS: Indeed, they are rocks. They began that way.
JIM LEHRER: Right.
RICHARD POTTS: The great finding of rocks that are 2 Â½ million years old that were modified by humans is that it’s the beginning of a human--of the human technological venture. How we know is that there is a particular pattern. Again, on this one you can see that there’s a pattern to the scoring on the rock, which is a kind of pattern that does not occur in nature, unless you have a whole lot of other rocks around it that are all jumbled together, such as in a river. The rocks that were excavated of this age are all made in the ancient past that was a much more gentle environment. There weren’t any other rocks around, and so all of the rocks were modified in a patterned way, indicating human activity.
JIM LEHRER: Human activity. What kind of uses were these tools put to?
RICHARD POTTS: That’s also a good question. There has been some research done on that in tools that are a bit later but of the same kind of technology. And it turns out that we used to think that it was this kind of rock, this kind of tool that was used, the one that would flake. It now appears that the kind of wear we see on the edges that it was the actual flakes, the slivers of rock that were used, and they were used for a variety of things like butchering animals, perhaps sharpening sticks to dig up plant or foods that were underneath the ground, and a variety of tasks like that.
JIM LEHRER: How do the scientists know that these rocks, the 3,000 rocks, are, in fact, 2.5 million years old?
RICHARD POTTS: Indeed, there is a way of dating the dirt around where the rocks were found. There’s a volcanic layer above the rock which can be dated through a technique called argon technique. It’s like a clock, a radioactive clock, and the geologists are able to measure the amount of potassium, the amount of argon, and are able to look at the ratio between the two. And we know the rate at which one decays into the other. And it’s a clock. It tells us 2 Â½ million.
JIM LEHRER: And it’s not a debatable subject anymore, right?
RICHARD POTTS: That’s not a debatable--
JIM LEHRER: Nobody disagrees that these rocks are 2.5 million years old.
RICHARD POTTS: That’s right. It’s quite firmly established by today’s report.
JIM LEHRER: Okay. Now today’s report does jar some previous thoughts about when humankind began, is that right? Explain that. Why is this so significant?
RICHARD POTTS: This is the beginning of technology, and we’ve long considered this to be a major hallmark of our evolutionary history. And, indeed, it is. It’s interesting because these stone tools are slightly older than the oldest fossils that belong to our branch of the family tree, the genus Homo as it’s called as in homosapiens. The oldest fossils of our biological genus are about 2.4 million years old, a couple of hundred thousand years, or one hundred thousand years later than the earliest tools. Well, it opens up a big mystery. Who was the tool maker? We have earlier members of our family tree. The genus name is Australopithecus. And they were known for having an ability to not only walk around on two legs--
JIM LEHRER: There we go. We’ve got pictures of--they look kind of similar from here.
RICHARD POTTS: They look pretty similar, but the one known as Australopithecus had an ability to climb in the trees. The one known as Homo (hee hee) had a slightly larger brain. While we have always been thinking that stone tool-making was a pretty complicated activity--
JIM LEHRER: You had to think about it.
RICHARD POTTS: You had to think about it.
JIM LEHRER: You invented it, kind of.
RICHARD POTTS: That’s right. But as you can see right before you with these tools that this kind of technology is actually pretty simple.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. But is there any--does this mean that there’s going to be a whole new search for the answer to that question you just posed, who these people were, what size their brains were, and all that?
RICHARD POTTS: There must be. The time period between two and three million years before the present is a real mystery. I mean, we have quite a few fossils and quite a few stone tools, but it’s not--not the density of fossil evidence that we normally would like.
JIM LEHRER: For those of us--explain what fossil evidence is for somebody like you.
RICHARD POTTS: Sure. For example, the bones of our ancestors, when those ancestors died, the bones were--in some cases--were buried. You’re very lucky if you get buried, and just by natural processes, and then the minerals from the dirt, the soil, begin to infuse the bones, harden them up, make them basically just like rock but preserving the look of the actual bone, itself. But we also have fossil behavior once you have stone tools. The ability of these early humans to make tools is fossilized in the ground in the form of these tools.
JIM LEHRER: So for somebody in your line of work this was an exciting day.
RICHARD POTTS: Tremendously exciting indeed.
JIM LEHRER: Thank you for sharing it with us.
RICHARD POTTS: Thanks.
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 02:49 PM (KuvFu)
Archeologists look at a cave painting or a shred of cloth and just invent an entire culture and belief system around it, which they relay to the public in authoritative tones. How do they know?! Almost everything we're taught about early humans is stuff that people just made up simply because it seemed to make sense.
Posted by: sandy burger at November 30, 2005 03:00 PM (Sw8Cn)
JIM LEHRER: Is that so?
RICHARD POTTS: Yes.
JIM LEHRER: Anything else?
RICHARD POTTS: Um... bedwetting. They're bedwetters too.
JIM LEHRER: Fascinating. Sceince is Amazing. That's all today.
Posted by: Dr. Reo Symes at November 30, 2005 03:02 PM (kUNrb)
just as spiders (arachnida) and sea spiders (pycnogonida) are considered separate classes, so are sea scorpions (eurypterida) and true scorpions (arachnida), though all are part of the chelicerata subfamily of arthropoda.
Yeah, whatever, man. Next you'll be telling me that lions didn't really come from sea-lions who crawled out of the sea. Whatever.
Posted by: sandy burger at November 30, 2005 03:08 PM (Sw8Cn)
Archeologists look at a cave painting or a shred of cloth and just invent an entire culture and belief system around it, which they relay to the public in authoritative tones. How do they know?!
The time period between two and three million years before the present is a real mystery.
Mr. Potts only has to account for measely one million years and the mystery is sovled. Get the Scooby gang on it right away!
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 03:10 PM (KuvFu)
Reminds me of the nerd joke:
An astronomer, a physicist, and a mathematician were enjoying a train ride through the English countryside when they spied a black sheep. The astronomer immediately exclaimed: "All sheep are black!"
The physicist gave him a disapproving look and stated in a stern tone: "Some sheep are black."
The mathematician looked at them both pityingly, and shaking his head said: "Some sheep are black some of the time."
Posted by: geoff at November 30, 2005 03:13 PM (f+QmI)
Clearly Mr. Potts has an agenda, as you will see.
The interview continues --
Bart: What else can we infer from these tools?
Potts: Well, Bart, the tools indicate an enlightened society that encouraged conservation.
Bart: Really? That's interesting. Anything else?
Potts: With the discovery of the roc-, er, tools, we understand that our ancestors were more open to homosexuality than present day societies, namely American society.
Bart: Oh. H-h-how can you tell?
Potts: By the shape of the rock-, I mean tools. Look how nicely it fits in the hand.
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 03:20 PM (fKk6C)
Geoff: I've always heard the punchline as "There is at least one sheep in England, one side of which, is black." A small difference.
Posted by: Dr. Reo Symes at November 30, 2005 03:26 PM (kUNrb)
I heard the joke as it was circulated among physics students, who may have preferred a version which cast a poorer light on mathematicians.
Posted by: geoff at November 30, 2005 03:30 PM (f+QmI)
A serious question.
Potts, referring to one of his rocks/tools declares, "you can see that it fits nicely in the hand," while he is holding it in front of Jim Lehrer.
Think about that for a second. Potts claimed that rock/tool was 2,000,000 years old. Did Potts just admit the human hand has not evolved in two million years?
Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2005 03:32 PM (fKk6C)
Sandy, I can't help wondering if you got this idea from Chesterton -- if so, good on ya, and if not, you might find this interesting:
Posted by: at November 30, 2005 03:35 PM (e1Zez)
Posted by: Guy T. at November 30, 2005 03:38 PM (e1Zez)
Posted by: sandy burger at November 30, 2005 03:42 PM (iGWFT)
As for the tetchiness...well that's my schtick, right?
Posted by: Jeff B. at November 30, 2005 04:07 PM (Ii+Xg)
David Macaulay's "Motel of the Mysteries" is the book for you. The illustrations alone are worth the price of admission.
Posted by: Guy T. at November 30, 2005 04:30 PM (e1Zez)
I'm not disagreeing with you about all of the obviously ridiculous inferences ("Footprints? Yep! Definately an ancient man-sized, underwater scorpion, no two ways about it!")
I am disagreeing. though, on the underlying physics of carbon dating.
You won't find any disagreement with me over the idea that scientists have a tendency to jump to ridiculous conclusions about some things. For example, I am very, very far from convinced that anthropogenic CO2 emissions have much to do with observed changes in global temperatures. That is a situation in which we humans have very little knowledge or understanding of the subject, have a very limited physical record, conflicting empirical data, etc., and yet some people are quick to say "We can't explain it, therefore it's people's fault." That is typically the extent of the reasoning provided in support of the theory.
Carbon dating is a different story. The underlying physics is faily straightforward. That doesn't mean that every rock that shows up on Jim Lehrer's show is a 2 million year old "tool", though. Only that it probably is, in fact, 2 million years old.
Posted by: Dave S at November 30, 2005 04:49 PM (RcK9w)
Sorry Bart, but you're an idiot.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 01, 2005 01:01 AM (ZrDos)
Posted by: uhh at December 01, 2005 01:06 AM (ywZa8)
Posted by: S. Weasel at December 01, 2005 01:53 AM (6ed4W)
2. Bart's request for an example of a find of a substantially complete dinosaur skelaton has not actually been answered by the later commenters, since he did not ask for an example of "image" or "impression" fossil (which was so far as I can tell the only kind of fossil cited in response to him), but for an example where substantially all the bones, fossilized, were themselves found as a substantially complete skelaton. Instead of being met with cited examples, he was met with insults. Providing emotion rather than data is not an impressive response from those who claim to be more scientific than he.
Posted by: sissoed at December 01, 2005 05:12 AM (n8Lik)
Posted by: spurwing plover at December 01, 2005 11:54 AM (b1Fi6)
There are some superb archaeopteryx fossils which have preserved not only the entire skeleton but the details of the feathers. Sue is a famous near-complete tyrannousaur. There are many many other examples available if you just take the effort to Google for them.
Since he didn't bother to even do that, it is clear that Bart is indeed an idiot.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 01, 2005 11:55 PM (ZrDos)
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