Trivia

Massive Gigantic Prehistoric Spiders

About possible massive spiders or spiderlike creatures that lived millions and millions of years ago.

THOMAS R. HENRY'S 10 BEST ODDITIES

A Spider 9' Long. "'With other classes of animals, and even with plants, man feels a certain kinship--but spiders are not of his world. Their strange habits, ethics, and psychology seem to belong to some other planet where conditions are more monstrous, more active, more insane, more atrocious, more infernal than on our own. Frightfulness and ruthlessness appear a part of their nature and we stand appalled when it dawns upon us that they are far better armed and equipped for their life work than we for ours.'

"Thus writes Dr. W. E. Stafford, U.S. Department of Agriculture naturalist. There probably is quite general agreement with his sentiments. One chills at the picture of some other planet where spiders and their kind, who have evolved minds equal to that of humans, are the dominant animals.

"Once gigantic spiderlike creatures ruled this world. They were as big as lions or gorillas. Their realm was the earth of the Silurian geological era of 350 million years ago--a time of warm, quiet seas which, especially in the northern hemisphere, covered large areas that now are dry land. These creatures were the euripterids, or sea scorpions, whose nearest extant relatives are the horseshoe crabs with sky-blue blood that are common along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., and the venom-fanged land scorpions. They exceeded in size all living invertebrate animals.

"Many were 5' to 6' long; one was 9' long. Presumably they were free-swimming, predacious creatures with massive, crushing jaws. Their chief prey, it is believed, were the much smaller, crablike trilobites with whom they shared a common ancestry. These were shelled animals, the imprints of whose hard shells in mud (which later became rock) are among the most ancient records of animal life on this planet. The trilobites were creatures who crawled on shallow sea bottoms. Their only defense was to roll themselves in balls. They appear to have been the dominant form of life for at least 100 million years."

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