Jump to content

Mazon Creek Best Of The Best Arthropleura Cristata Richardson, 1959


Recommended Posts

Arthropleura is one of the most impressive animals that lived in the Pennsylvanian coal swamps. It is also the largest terrestrial animal known from the Mazon Creek deposit and largest terrestrial arthropod of all time.

This giant millipede reach an enormous  size estimated to be approximately 2 meters!

Unfortunately we do not find complete body fossils. Tergites, limbs and an unusual joint structure that connected the leg to the body (rosette organ) have been found.

Any Arthropleura material from Mazon is extremely rare. I would estimate there are only a few dozen specimens known to exist.

The earliest reported find of Arthropleura in the Mazon Creek Came from George Langford and Eugene Richardson in 1952.

They recovered 2 rosette organs. A few years later a complete leg was found.

At first these finds were thought to be unusual shrimp. Richardson was the first to realize that they were indeed Arthropleura. This was the first reported find of Arthropleura in North America.

Over the next 2 years a few other specimens were recovered. All were found in the same small area at Pit 1.

Richardson formally described Arthropleura cristata in 1959.

At the time there was some debate as to if Arthropleura lived its life in water or on land.

Many trackways have been found at different sites proving that Arthropleura was terrestrial. 
Gut contents are known from more complete Arthropleura found at other sites showing that it fed on lycopsid spores.

Lycopod cones have a similar appearance to a modern day pine cone.

There are a few large coprolites that have been collected from the Mazon Creek deposit that consist of these cone bracts.

These coprolites have been attributed to Arthropleura.

I am very fortunate in having been able to accumulate several fantastic examples of the different body structures of this amazing animal. All specimens were collected from the actual Mazon Creek site.

The leg shown is also pictured in The Mazon Creek Fossil Fauna book by Jack Wittry.

This first specimen is tergite which would have been positioned on the outside edge of one of the body segments. Most specimens show preserve a bumpy texture.

As you can see this one is smooth and might be showing the underside of this plate.






  • I found this Informative 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

This specimen is a rosette organ and looks nearly identical to the original specimens collected by Langford and Richardson.



  • I found this Informative 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an unusual specimen. I believe it is a rosette organ along with a body section.




  • I found this Informative 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a nearly complete leg.

I am only aware of two other known examples.



  • I found this Informative 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an amazing Arthropleura coprolite! You can see numerous cone bracts throughout the mass.

There is a similar specimen in the collection at the Smithsonian.


  • I found this Informative 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post, I do not believe that I have any examples of this Carboniferous Bad Boy in my collection. Thanks for posting.

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Once again fascinating, informative, amazing and beautiful. :)

I'm very glad this series is being pinned. 

Valuable stuff. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Incredible collection! If you found all those youself, you could probably win billions in casino:)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonderful specimens! That leg is astounding, but they are all great. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Incredible specimens! The only Mazon Creek nodule I have to my name is one I found in a rock pit several years ago, and all it contained was one of the "blobs".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...