A team of researchers has managed to uncover new crab specimens, among which we can count an ancient chimera type that could lead researchers to redefine what they think about crabs.
The researchers, led by renowned Yale paleontologist Javier Luque, found hundreds of fossils which were preserved in an excellent state. Initial tests suggest that the oldest specimens could date back to 95 million years ago, during the middle of the Cretaceous period. Among the fossils, the researchers spotted true shrimps, coma shrimps and what seems to be a brand new type of crab that hasn’t been seen before.
The creature, named Callichimaera perplexa, is deemed one of the earliest arthropod to be able to swim since the extinction of the seas scorpions, which disappeared almost 250 million years ago. The name has been inspired by the myth of the chimera, a fantastical creature which had the features of several animals. The translation of the name is ‘’perplexing, beautiful chimera’’.
The unusual looks of the creature fascinated the team. It is quite small, almost on par with a quarter. Its compound eyes do not have any sockets, and the claws are bent at an unusual angle. The mouth is also fascinating, as it is surrounded by parts that look like miniature legs. The body traits of the creature are quite similar to that of pelagic crab larvae.
These results infer that several of the primitive features possessed by the chimera was retain and developed in small adults as time passed. This process, known as heterochrony, may have led to the development of new body plans.
One of the researchers has already noted that the discovery roused the interest of the scientific community, and some deem it to be the platypus of the crab species. Further studies may reveal how novel forms evolved and became more disparate during the evolutionary process. It doesn’t look like any of the crabs which were discovered before and it likely that more information will be found in the future.
The results were published in a scientific journal.
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