The fossil of one of the largest ever invertebrates to have lived has been found, by accident, on a beach in Northumberland.
The fossil is of a giant millipede, an arthropod, of the genus Arthropleura. Arthropods are invertebrates with jointed legs and a hard exoskeleton. These animals have been knwn for the best part of the last 200 years, with most of the best examples of their fossils coming from the UK, continental Europe and north America.
They were alive during the Carboniferous Period, which lasted from around 359 to 299 million years ago, when the climate of the north east of England would have been much more tropical and oxygen levels in the atmosphere were higher than they currently are, allowing bigger animals to survive: this is certainly the case, as Arthropleura is thought to have been 2.5m long with a mass of around 50 kg!
Imagine that scuttling out from a pile of dead leaves at the bottom of your garden!
Until next time, keep calm and apply some Science!