Animated Extinctions

I saw this animation posted to Imgur by user Waffurur, showing the five biggest mass extinction events in Earth’s history (as far as we know, really):

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Most people are familiar with the Cretacious-Tertiary mass extinction about 65 million years ago, which killed off the last of the dinosaurs. Well, except for birds, which are totally still dinosaurs.

Some people know about the Permian mass extinction, which left only about four percent of species alive. That’s also the one that finished off the trilobites, which is a bummer because they seem pretty cool.

"Kainops invius lateral and ventral" by Moussa Direct Ltd. (Moussa Direct Ltd. image archive) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, it also brought an end to the eurypterids—a/k/a sea scorpions that reached eight feet or more in length (but were generally harmless)… Continue reading


The Horseshoe Crab’s Terrifying Pedigree

The horseshoe crab is an interesting critter, remaining relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. One species lives in the Atlantic Ocean along the North American coast, while the other three species live in the waters off Southeast and East Asia. It looks sort of like what you imagine might happen if a facehugger from the Alien movies mated with a large beetle.

You’ve probably never wondered what a horseshoe crab orgy looks like, but if you read past this line, you’re going to find out.

Horseshoe crabs mating in the Delaware Bay of Southern New Jersey, by Asturnut (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, GFDL (], via Wikipedia

Of course I would find the horseshoe crab fascinating, because I’m into that sort of thing. Also, of course, I would want to learn more about it for the benefit of my reader(s). And whoa, does the horseshoe crab get scary when you dig into its lineage. Continue reading