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Paper published in the Journal of the Geological Society presents an improved framework for dividing Earth history based on a combination of tectonic, environmental and biological events as evidenced directly in rocks

Specimen of partial remains of a giant Arthropleura

The largest arthropod in Earth history: insights from newly discovered Arthropleura remains (Serpukhovian Stainmore Formation, Northumberland, England)

Neil S. Davies, Russell J. Garwood, William J. McMahon, Joerg W. Schneider and Anthony P. Shillito

Arthropleura is a genus of giant myriapods that ranged from the early Carboniferous to Early Permian, with some individuals attaining lengths >2 m. Although most of the known fossils of the genus are disarticulated and occur primarily in late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) strata, we report here partially articulated Arthropleura remains from the early Carboniferous Stainmore Formation (Serpukhovian; Pendleian) in the Northumberland Basin of northern England. This 76 × 36 cm specimen represents part of an exuvium and is notable because only two comparably articulated giant Arthropleura fossils are previously known. It represents one of the largest known arthropod fossils and the largest arthropleurid recovered to date, the earliest (Mississippian) body fossil evidence for gigantism in Arthropleura, and the first instance of a giant arthropleurid body fossil within the same regional sedimentary succession as the large arthropod trackway Diplichnites cuithensis.

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False biosignatures on Mars: anticipating ambiguity 

Sean McMahon and Julie Cosmidis

It is often acknowledged that the search for life on Mars might produce false positive results, particularly via the detection of objects, patterns or substances that resemble the products of life in some way but are not biogenic. The success of major current and forthcoming rover missions now calls for significant efforts to mitigate this risk. Here, we review known processes that could have generated false biosignatures on early Mars. ThesCarbon–sulfur biomorphs.e examples are known largely from serendipitous discoveries rather than systematic research and remain poorly understood; they probably represent only a small subset of relevant phenomena. These phenomena tend to be driven by kinetic processes far from thermodynamic equilibrium, often in the presence of liquid water and organic matter, conditions similar to those that can actually give rise to, and support, life. We propose that strategies for assessing candidate biosignatures on Mars could be improved by new knowledge on the physics and chemistry of abiotic self-organization in geological systems.