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Schmidt et al., 2022

Spines and baskets in apex predatory sea scorpions uncover unique feeding strategies using 3D-kinematics

Schmidt, M., Melzer, R. R., Plotnick, R. E., Bicknell, R. D.
Typearticle in journal


Megalograptidae and Mixopteridae with elongate, spinose prosomal appendages are unique early Palaeozoic sea scorpions (Eurypterida). These features were presumably used for hunting, an untested hypothesis. Here, we present 3D model-based kinematic range of motion (ROM) analyses of Megalograptus ohioensis and Mixopterus kiaeri and compare these to modern analogues. This comparison confirms that the eurypterid appendages were likely raptorial, used in grabbing and holding prey for consumption. The Megalograptus ohioensis model illustrates notable Appendage III flexibility, indicating hypertrophied spines on Appendage III may have held prey, while Appendage II likely ripped immobilized prey. Mixopterus kiaeri, conversely, constructed a capture basket with Appendage III, and impaled prey with Appendage II elongated spines. Thus, megalograptid and mixopterid frontalmost appendages constructed a double basket system prior to moving dismembered prey to the chelicerae. Such 3D kinematic modelling presents a more complete understanding of these peculiar euchelicerates and highlights their possible position within past ecosystems.

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