Giant millipedes that were "as big as cars" once roamed the northern part of England, anthropologists say.
- The discovery of the 9-foot-long creatures "was a complete fluke," says Neil Davis, lead author of a study that appears in Tuesday's Journal of the Geological Society. It occurred after a block of sandstone tumbled off a cliff, crashing onto a beach where researchers were working, he says. "The way the boulder had fallen, it had cracked open and perfectly exposed the fossil, which one of our former PhD students happened to spot when walking by," Davis says. "It was an incredibly exciting find, but the fossil is so large it took four of us to carry it up the cliff face."
- Scientists say the millipede species, named Arthropleura, lived about 326 million years ago -- long before dinosaurs first appeared on Earth. The 110-pound creatures thrived for around 45 million years, when England was a tropical environment, they say. "We have not yet found a fossilized head, so it’s difficult to know everything about them," Davis says.
- If humankind had been around when some of these giant species were, would we be here today?
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