A 410 Million-Year-Old Arachnid Crawls Back To Life

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By Sarah Thomas | July 11, 2014 2:40 PM EST

A 410 million-year-old Arachnid's fossil was so well preserved, it was possible for scientists to see it's joints and they used this to recreate this in the virtual world. Known in the scientific world as trigonotarbid, the creature was the first predator to walk on the surface of the earth.

It's specimens were found in Scotland, near the Aberdeenshire town of Rhynie. To recreate this ancient animal, Russell Garwood from the University of Manchester, UK, and his colleagues analysed these immaculately preserved specimens.

They closely studied the trigonotarbids visible muscle structure and studied its possible preys. "Between each part of the leg, there are darker pieces where they join, and that allowed us to work out the range of movement," said Garwood to BBC News.

The gait of the trigonotarbids were compared with the gaits of modern spiders because they have similar leg proportions, he explained. They used an open source graphic program called Blender to recreate the motion, which enabled them to see the centre of mass and find a gait that worked. "If it's too far back compared to the legs, the posterior drags on the ground. The trigonotarbid is an alternating tetrapod, meaning there are four feet on the ground at any one time," he explained.

The co-author of the research, Jason Dunlop of the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany, stated that now it would be much simpler to make these animations, and scientists themselves could do it without needing "the technical wizardry and immense costs of a Jurassic Park-Style Film."

The work is published in the the Journal Of Palentology as a part of a special collection of papers on 3D visualizations of fossils.

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