Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Chelicerata
Class Merostomata
Order Eurypterida
Suborder Eurypterina
Family Pterygotidae
Genus Pterygotus
1st Species Pterygotus anglicus
2nd Species Pterygotus arcuatus
3rd Species Pterygotus cobbi
4th Species Pterygotus ludensis
Other attributes
Time Range 428-391 mya
Location United Kingdom, Czech Republic, United States of America, Canada, Bolivia (possibly Australia, Estonia)
Name Meaning Winged fish
Physical Dimensions 1.6 meters long for P.anglicus, 60 centimeters for P.arcuatus, 1.4 meters for P.cobbi, 50 centimeters for P. kopaninensis, 1.3 meters for P.barrandei, 90 centimeters for P.floridanus, 1.2 meters for P.denticulatus, 75 centimeters for P.lightbodyi, 55 centimeters for P.bolivianus
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Pterygotus is a pterygotid eurypterid merostomate arthropod from the Wenlock-Late Devonian of the United Kingdom, Canada, Czech Republic, Bolivia, the United States of America, and possibly Australia and Estonia. It was named in 1844 by Louis Agassiz. It was a truly big arthropod, and it was one of the most successful giant eurypterids, lasting for nearly 2 periods; as well as this, it was confused for being a giant fish (hence the meaning of its name, "winged fish"), right before people discovered that it was a eurypterid.


Pterygotus resembled the generic eurypterid. It was a large chelicerate with a rounded cephalothorax, large eyes, long arms with serrated claws, 4 pairs of walking legs, a pair of paddles for swimming, and a long tail ending in a paddle. Its body would have been covered in a hard, chitinous exoskeleton.


Pterygotus was a predator, preying on fish, trilobites, aquatic scorpions, small orthoconic cephalopods, and smaller eurypterids. Its serrated claws were used for getting a hold of any struggling prey, as well as crushing them and ripping them apart.


Pterygotus was a fast swimmer, using its paddles and tail to propel itself through the water. A study on all pterygotid eurypterids had shown that it had robust claws designed for crushing, and that its eyesight was on par with that of modern predatory arthropods, such as dragonflies and mantids; this condition was similar to Jaekelopterus, and contrasted with Acutiramus, which had weaker eyesight and claws. In order to hunt, Pterygotus would bury itself in the sand, waiting for any unsuspecting fish, trilobites, cephalopods, or small chelicerates to get close. Once they did, it would rise up, grab them, and rip them apart with its claws, allowing it to eat their innards.

In popular cultureEdit

Pterygotus was featured in the 1st episode of the 2005 documentary Walking with Monsters, where it rises out of the sands to kill an unsuspecting Brontoscorpio; as well as this, it was shown as being a motherly eurypterid, sharing the scorpion's innards with its young. It appeared again in another documentary, First Life, where a few small individuals scavenge the dead body of a large one, right before an even bigger one attacks them.

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