FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2022
Albuquerque, NM - A team of paleontologists from the U.K. (Dr. Simon J. Braddy) and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (Research Associate Allan J Lerner and Curator Dr. Spencer G. Lucas) have published an article in the latest issue of the scientific journal Historical Biology describing a new species of giant sea scorpion (eurypterid) discovered in New Mexico.
This sea scorpion fossil is a new and surprising addition to New Mexico’s fossil record. The fossil was found in 305-million-year-old rocks in the Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque. The fossil consists primarily of the telson (tail) of the sea scorpion. The new sea scorpion species, Hibbertopterus lamsdelli, was named for paleontologist James Lamsdell, of West Virginia University, a well-known expert on fossil sea scorpions. The name is pronounced “hibb-urt-OP-ter-us lams-dell-eye.”
Hibbertopterus lamsdelli belongs to a group of bizarre sea scorpions, the hibbertopterids, that reached lengths of over 6 feet. The New Mexico fossil represents a sea scorpion about 4 feet long. Hibbertopterids were heavily built “sweep-feeders” that used specialized spines on their legs to stir muddy sediment in search of small invertebrate food items.
The New Mexican fossil is only the fourth fossil discovered of an American hibbertopterid.Hibbertopterid fossils are also known from Europe and South Africa. Sea scorpions went extinct about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period.
This fossil is part of the collection of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and will go on view at the museum in the coming months. Curator Dr. Spencer Lucas expressed his excitement about the new discovery, “Another amazing and unexpected fossil find in New Mexico, which reminds us just how many new fossils are out there in the State, awaiting discovery.”
About the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Trustees of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation, through the generous support of donors. Established in 1986, the mission of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science is to preserve and interpret the distinctive natural and scientific heritage of our state through extraordinary collections, research, exhibits, and programs designed to ignite a passion for lifelong learning. The NMMNHS offers exhibitions, programs, and workshops in Geoscience, including Paleontology and Mineralogy, Bioscience, and Space Science. It is the Southwest’s largest repository for fossils and includes a Planetarium and a large format 3D DynaTheater.