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New Species of Ordovician Horseshoe Crab Unearthed in Canada


Horseshoe crabs, or xiphosurans, are an order of marine and brackish water arthropods. Regardless of their widespread title, they don’t seem to be actually crabs, and are extra intently associated to spiders and scorpions.

Lunataspis borealis specimens and interpretive drawings. Grey signifies preservation of natural cuticular materials. Abbreviations: AN – axial node; CL – cardiac lobe; CN – cardiac node; FT – free tergites; LE – lateral eye; MR – marginal rim; OR – ophthalmic ridge; PT – pretelson. Scale bars – 1 mm. Picture credit score: Lamsdell et al., doi: 10.1017/S0016756822000875.

“Xiphosurans are aquatic chelicerate arthropods with an in depth fossil document stretching again to the Ordovician, however a seemingly low standing range with solely 76 species described to this point all through everything of their 445-million-year evolutionary historical past,” mentioned lead writer Dr. James Lamsdell, a paleontologist within the Division of Geology and Geography at West Virginia College, and his colleagues.

“Regardless of being uncommon parts of aquatic ecosystems, the 4 extant horseshoe crab species have lengthy been acknowledged as being biomedically essential for vaccine manufacturing and keystone parts of their ecosystems in want of lively conservation, and are the main focus of in depth analysis.”

The newly-identified xiphosuran species lived in what’s now Canada in the course of the Sandbian age of the Ordovician interval, between 458 and 453 million years in the past.

Named Lunataspis borealis, it had plenty of traits thought of diagnostic of the genus Lunataspis, together with a big, lunate carapace.

“The invention demonstrates that a number of Lunataspis species occupied the shallow seas of Laurentia in the course of the Late Ordovician,” the paleontologists mentioned.

Three specimens of Lunataspis borealis have been recovered from the Gull River Formation, the place it’s uncovered within the north face of an inactive quarry in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

“The holotype specimen is a largely full grownup particular person whereas the 2 paratypes are juveniles or subadults preserving the prosoma and thoracetron together with elements of the postabdomen,” the researchers mentioned.

Lunataspis borealis supplies crucial perception into the ontogeny and morphology of the earliest horseshoe crabs, indicating that at the least some Paleozoic types had freely articulating tergites anterior to the fused thoracetron and an opisthosoma comprising 13 segments.”

A paper on the findings seems within the Geological Journal.

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James C. Lamsdell et al. A brand new species of the Ordovician horseshoe crab Lunataspis. Geological Journal, revealed on-line October 5, 2022; doi: 10.1017/S0016756822000875

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