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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 / A tardigrade in Dominican amber

Mapalo Marc, Robin Ninon, Boudinot Brendon, Ortega-Hernandez Javier and Barden Phillip (2021)

A tardigrade in Dominican amber

Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288(1960):20211760.

Tardigrades are a diverse group of charismatic microscopic invertebrates that are best known for their ability to survive extreme conditions. Despite their long evolutionary history and global distribution in both aquatic and terrestrial environments, the tardigrade fossil record is exceedingly sparse. Molecular clocks estimate that tardigrades diverged from other panarthropod lineages before the Cambrian, but only two definitive crown-group representatives have been described to date, both from Cretaceous fossil deposits in North America. Here, we report a third fossil tardigrade from Miocene age Dominican amber. Paradoryphoribius chronocaribbeus gen. et sp. nov. is the first unambiguous fossil representative of the diverse superfamily Isohypsibioidea, as well as the first tardigrade fossil described from the Cenozoic. We propose that the patchy tardigrade fossil record can be explained by the preferential preservation of these microinvertebrates as amber inclusions, coupled with the scarcity of fossiliferous amber deposits before the Cretaceous.

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