Dragons in Paradise by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.
If you believe the theory of evolution, then you accept that this specimen is a "distant relative" of its smaller relatives living today, "millions of years" later. If, however you believe the Bible, as we do here at s8int.com, you understand that this "animal" is a larger version of the same type that exists today, who were alive prior to the flood. As we've demonstrated on this site--not just the dinosaurs were extremely large at one time.
If you read about their oxygen requirements at this size, you'll recognize further evidence that at one time the earth had lower gravity and a higher content of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Think mosquitoes and millipedes are nasty?
Then don't look too deeply into New Mexico's past.
|This bug model appears to be a tad shy of 8 feet|
Today, you can squish the tiny bugs, but 300 million years ago, 8-foot-long millipedes were in control of the landscape, and humans weren't even a gleam in evolution's eye.
New Mexico is now a world record holder of such "exquisitely grotesque creatures," as one worker at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science calls them.
Evidence of the largest arthropleura - its technical name - ever found was recovered by the museum on Friday.
"In today's world, you couldn't have a bug this big," said Spencer Lucas, paleontology curator at the museum. "This is basically the Tyrannosaurus of the Pennsylvanian period, millions of years before dinosaurs evolved. If you took a time machine back, you'd definitely want to check your sleeping bag for these suckers before getting in." The Pennsylvanian time period lasted from 325 to 280 million years ago.
The museum has not found the bug itself. What it did find in a remote canyon near Española were the fossilized tracks of such a creature - which looks like a 3-by-8 speed bump with flat wings holding hundreds of nasty, ribbed, horseshoe-shaped feet.
"This is a very spectacular thing," said Adrian Hunt, director of the museum, who went out in the field with the team to recover it. "Think of it as a much bigger cross between a millipede and a centipede. It probably lived in swampy forest debris. Something like this has never been found before in the Western United States."
Evidence of the creatures has also been found in Nova Scotia and Scotland, but Jorg Schneider, an international expert on them and a paleontologist from the Freiberg Mining Academy in Germany, said New Mexico's find is evidence of the biggest arthropleura ever.
The second-largest creature was probably a few inches smaller than the one found in New Mexico. The New Mexico track is 39.3 centimeters wide, compared with the second-largest track, in Scotland, which is 36 centimeters wide, Schneider said.
Schnieder came to New Mexico for a two-week visit to look at the track and other New Mexico rocks from the same time period, he said.
"One question we have is, could such a large beast live on plant material only?" Schneider said. "In millipedes from the modern era, we know that scolopender (a type of millipede) is a predator.
Possibly these big extinct versions also ate other animals. This was the top of the food chain - with no natural enemy - for about 40 to 50 million years during the Pennsylvanian."
The creatures might have been vegetarians, but their large size suggests they might have eaten early reptiles that later evolved into dinosaurs and mammals, Schneider said. One favorite snack could have been the pelycosaur, a relative of the dimetrodon, a small, sail-backed lizard common in that age, Lucas said.
"We're still really not sure what they ate," Lucas said. "This guy was probably out patrolling the forest floor eating smaller bugs - which were still pretty big by today's standards - and maybe eating small vertebrates. New Mexico was near the equator then, and the land was much warmer and wetter."
Arthropleura died out at the end of the Pennsylvanian, probably because the amount of oxygen in the air was reduced from 30 percent during that time period to closer to the 21 percent we have today, Lucas said.
"They just couldn't survive at that size in modern air," Lucas said. "Their lungs weren't as evolved as ours. For an insect to get that big, you'd need to have a lot more oxygen in the air. These guys were an evolutionary dead end."
Millipedes and centipedes aren't directly related to arthropleura, he added, but might be from a related branch of the now-extinct creature's family tree, Lucas added. "Breathing, food, locomotion are all problematic for a bug that big," Lucas said. "When the world changed, they just couldn't adapt."
Builders have found the fossil of a giant armadillo, which lived up to 2 million years ago and would have been the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, in southern Peru.
"They were carrying out work inside a private home and stumbled upon this surprise during the digging," Pedro Luna, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Culture, said.
The armadillo order first evolved around 50 million years ago in South America.
The type found in Cusco was a glyptodon, one of the biggest ancient armadillos from the Ice Ages.
"It was an animal that appeared 2 million years before Christ and would have died out 10,000 to 15,000 years BC because of a freeze," Mr Luna said.
He said the fossil was "almost complete" and was two metres long including the tail, 1.1 metres wide and with an average height of almost one metre.
He said the animal would have been the size of "a Volkswagen".
Mr Luna said it was the fifth such fossil found since 1998 in Cusco, proving that there was a large lake and valley in the area with lush vegetation. Armadillos are herbivores.
The glyptodon, which means "carved tooth", had short legs with clawed toes, a dome-shaped bony shell composed of plates measuring one to seven centimetres thick, rings of bony armour on its tail and armour on its head.