Geologists at Ohio State University discovered the Largest Cockroach Fossil belonging to a massive prehistoric cockroach (Arthropleura pustulatus) that crawled in North America about 300 million years ago. The cockroach measures a staggering 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) which is twice as large as the average American roach. The geologists and their colleagues retrieved this enormous fossil from a coal mine in Ohio and this was the first instance that such a complete specimen had been so well-preserved over the years.
A modern American cockroach stands atop a fossilized cockroach from 300 million years ago
The roach has been presumed to exist 55 million years before the first dinosaurs came into existence. The minute details, including veins in the insect’s wings and fine bumps covering the wing surface are clearly visible. Besides this, the antennae and legs are folded around the body of the cockroach whereas mouth parts are discernible. Such intricacies in the fossil details stumped researchers who, otherwise, would only hope of unearthing shells and bones.
Clearly outlined details within the fossil
The strip coal mine has also yielded fossils of two rare arachnids, a giant centipede-like insect measuring about 60 inches long (150 centimeters) and 12 inches wide (30 centimeters), and a new genus and species of gerarid insect. The coal mine where the fossil was found was once a giant tropical swamp that rapidly dried out during the Carboniferous era.
The Ohio mine where the largest cockroach fossil was found
The Ohio mine, also referred to as “The 7-11 Mine” due to its location at the intersection of Ohio State Routes 7 and 11 in northeastern Ohio, has been home to various fossils of plants and animals from 300 million years ago and interestingly, all of them have been preserved in impeccable state.
The cockroach is assumed to have been fossilized due to the rapidly changing weather, but how it was preserved in such an unprecedented way is inexplicable. The fossil site was originally discovered in 1979 by geologist Gregory McComas, with whose assistance Mr. Easterday (a master’s student in Geology science at Ohio university) found the cockroach fossil in 1999.
Easterday examines a fossilized cockroach from 300 million years ago
Scientists are hopeful with this discovery, some questions about how ancient plants and animals coped with the changing environment might be explained.