Oldest fossil scorpions show transition to land, claim scientists in reports in Science (AAAS) News and ScienceDaily 16 January 2020 and Scientific Reports, 16 January 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-56010-z. 

Palaeontologists have studied two “exceptionally preserved” scorpion fossils from the Waukesha Biota, a fossil deposit in Wisconsin, USA.  Scorpions are arachnids, the class of invertebrates that also includes spiders, mites and ticks, and are believed to the among the first creatures to move from water to land.  The fossils are dated as 437 million years old, making them the oldest fossil scorpions on the evolutionary scale. 

Apart from some small differences in the external structure, they are the same as present day scorpions.  The fossil scorpions have seven plates on their thorax but present-day scorpions have five.  Other fossil scorpions have been found with six plates.  The creatures are so well preserved that parts of their internal organs can be seen.  The scientists reported the fossils scorpions’ breathing, digestive and blood circulation systems are “essentially indistinguishable from those of present-day scorpions”. 

Palaeontologist Jason Dunlop, curator of arachnids at Berlin’s Natural History Museum, commented: “This suggests that parts of the internal anatomy of scorpions have not changed much in nearly 440 million years”. 

There is some debate as to whether they lived on land or in water.  Present day scorpions live on land, but the researchers suggest the fossil scorpions lived a semi-aquatic life, coming out onto land to reproduce, like horseshoe crabs, or to hunt prey. 

The fossils have been named Parioscorpio venator, which means “progenitor scorpion hunter”.  Loren Babcock of Ohio State University, one of the researchers, commented: “We’re looking at the oldest known scorpion – the oldest known member of the arachnid lineage, which has been one of the most successful land-going creatures in all of Earth history.  And beyond that, what is of even greater significance is that we’ve identified a mechanism by which animals made that critical transition from a marine habitat to a terrestrial habitat. It provides a model for other kinds of animals that have made that transition including, potentially, vertebrate animals. It’s a ground-breaking discovery.”

 Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment:  The only reason for the debate about whether they lived on land or water is that their claimed evolutionary age puts them into the period when animals were believed to have evolved from water to land dwelling creatures.  If their internal organs are indistinguishable from present day scorpions, and remain unchanged since these fossils were buried, there is no reason to believe they were any different from today’s land-dwelling scorpions.  Therefore, there is no basis for claiming to have identified the mechanism of transition from sea to land. 

The only change that has happened to scorpions since these fossils were buried is a decrease in the number of plates on their thorax, i.e. a loss of structure.  This decrease in complexity is the opposite of evolution, but is good evidence for Genesis, which tells us that God made sea and land animals as fully functional separate kinds.  If these fossils really were the oldest scorpions, they are proof that scorpions have multiplied after their kind ever since, but with some loss of structure as part of the overall degeneration of the world that has happened since God cursed the ground when sin came into the world. 

Evidence News vol. 20,
29 January 2020
Creation Research Australia