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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2016 / A 365-Million-Year-Old Freshwater Community Reveals Morphological and Ecological Stasis in Branchiopod Crustaceans

Pierre Gueriau, Nicolas Rabet, Gaël Clément, Linda Lagebro, Jean Vannier, Derek Briggs, Sylvain Charbonnier, Sébastien Olive and Olivier Béthoux (2016)

A 365-Million-Year-Old Freshwater Community Reveals Morphological and Ecological Stasis in Branchiopod Crustaceans

Current Biology, 26:1-8.

Branchiopod crustaceans are represented by fairy, tadpole, and clam shrimps (Anostraca, Notostraca, Laevicaudata, Spinicaudata), which typically inhabit temporary freshwater bodies, and water fleas (Cladoceromorpha), which live in all kinds of freshwater and occasionally marine environments. The earliest branchiopods occur in the Cambrian, where they are represented by complete body fossils from Sweden such as Rehbachiella kinnekullensis and isolated mandibles preserved as small carbonaceous fossils from Canada. The earliest known continental branchiopods are associated with hot spring environments represented by the Early Devonian Rhynie Chert of Scotland (410 million years ago) and include possible stem-group or crown-group Anostraca, Notostraca, and clam shrimps or Cladoceromorpha, which differ morphologically from their modern counterparts. Here we report the discovery of an ephemeral pool branchiopod community from the 365-million-year-old Strud locality of Belgium. It is characterized by new anostracans and spinicaudatans, closely resembling extant species, and the earliest notostracan, Strudops goldenbergi. These branchiopods released resting eggs into the sediment in a manner similar to their modern representatives. We infer that this reproductive strategy was critical to overcoming environmental constraints such as seasonal desiccation imposed by living on land. The pioneer colonization of ephemeral freshwater pools by branchiopods in the Devonian was followed by remarkable ecological and morphological stasis that persists to the present day.
Peer Review, Impact Factor, RBINS Collection(s)
Famennian, Crustacea, Paleontology
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Earth and History of Life

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