Extinct arthropod related to blind cave-dwelling crustaceans

Haug et al., BMC Evolutionary Biology 14, 159 (2014)

Extinct arthropod related to blind cave-dwelling crustaceans

The fossil of an extinct, carnivorous crustacean is providing clues to its mysterious relatives’ place in the evolutionary tree. Thylacares brandonensis was found in 435-million-year-old mudstone in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Other members of its clan, the thylacocephalans, are so bizarre that scientists confused them with barnacles and shrimp larvae. Now, in a paper published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, an international team of researchers suggests that T. brandonensis may be related to modern remipedes, blind crustaceans that resemble centipedes swimming through saltwater caves. Much like a remipede, T. brandonensis sports a highly segmented body and spiny legs that curl in front of its head to snare unwitting prey. If the scientists are right, its oddball fellow thylacocephalans may be remipede relatives, too.

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