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Tiny new fossil helps rewrite crab evolution, sheds light on Late Jurassic marine world
A “living” megalopa larva. Photo: Hsiu-Lin Chin.


LOS ANGELES, CA.- A paper in the journal Nature Communications (March 9, 2015) co-written by NHM Crustacea curator Dr. Jody Martin describes a 150-million-year-old crab larva fossil specimen from southern Germany. The new fossil provides critical evidence for understanding the early rise of crabs. Arthropods (they of a hard outer-skeleton, like crustaceans, spiders, and insects) very often have larval phases that are completely different from the adults — such as caterpillars and butterflies. Allegedly, one of the reasons crabs have been so successful is that their larval life habits (diet, locomotion, etc.) are decoupled from their adult life habits.

Most ancient fossils display a suite of “primitive” features, consistent with their early evolution and allowing them to be distinguished from their modern descendants. But the fossil described in this paper, despite its age, possesses a very modern morphology, indistinguishable from many crab larvae living today. “It’s amazing, but if we did not know this was a 150million-year-old fossil, we might think that it came from today’s ocean,” Dr. Martin said. “This came as quite a surprise to all of us.”

True crabs are the most successful group of decapod crustaceans, with about 7,000 living species known. This success is most likely coupled to their life history which includes two specialized larval forms, zoea and megalopa. The new fossil is of the latter larval type (the megalopa), and it is the first such fossil ever reported. True crabs as a group are comparably young, starting to diversify only about 100 million years ago (mya), with a dramatic increase in species richness beginning approximately 50 mya — though the early evolution of crabs is still very incompletely known.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a national leader in research, exhibitions and education. The Museum was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. It has amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history — with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years.





Today's News

March 11, 2015

Day after his death, German architect Frei Otto wins prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize

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Tiny new fossil helps rewrite crab evolution, sheds light on Late Jurassic marine world

Spanish court blocks London auction of Columbus letter owned by the House of Alba

Simon C. Dickinson, Ltd. to offer painting by Vincent Van Gogh at TEFAF

Nearly 200 of Warhol's screen prints, paintings and drawings from the 1940s to the 1980s on view in Phoenix

'Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland' on view at the de Young

Thirty-five-year survey of over 180 drawings by Dale Chihuly on view at the Museum of Glass

Christie's New York announces the March Sale of American Art on March 25th

Exhibition presents the result of a unique collaboration between Nick Waplington and Alexander McQueen

Monument to England's footballing failure sells for £425,000 at Sotheby's London

Katie Nartonis joins Heritage Auctions as Consignment Director, 20th & 21st Century Design

Narrative works by 19th-century American artists shaping young nation's identity at Frist Center

Natural Beauty in Japanese Art: An exhibition devoted to images of nature to open at Scholten Japanese Art

Exhibition of works by California artist Charles Arnoldi opens at Stremmel Gallery

The Year of Sleepwalking: Art First opens exhibition featuring the work of Mimei Thompson

Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts hosts the Kokon Biannual '15 exhibition

Exhibition at New Orleans Museum of Art explores the art and civilization of the Kongo peoples

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New series of photographs by Laurie Simmons to premiere at the Jewish Museum

Artwork by Grandma Moses, Pierre Renoir, and Charles Russell will be sold at Nadeau's

Rachel Adams named associate curator for UB Art Galleries

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