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Meet the Half Billion Year Old Lobster-Spider. With Tusks.

Science & Space

If you’d been around 520 million years ago and been living at the bottom of the ocean, you would not have wanted to stumble across the extinct creature scientists just identified from fossil records as belonging to the group known as “great appendage arthropods.” It was surely an ugly beast—shaped something like a spider, something like a lobster, with great tusk-like forelimbs. That said, it was also only about an inch long. Still, if you’d indeed in fact been living in its world, you might not have been much bigger, and that would have made it a fearsome sight.

Today, the little animal is mostly a matter of scientific interest, and in this week’s Nature, investigators took a run at determining just who its contemporary kin are. Does it belong in the branch of the arthropod tree currently occupied by the crustaceans, including crabs and lobsters? Or does it…

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