Ancient Ostracods Found Buried Alive With Brood

Posted on March 16, 2014

Luprisca incuba with brood

Scientists have found fossilized ostracods entombed with their eggs and newly hatched offspring. The ostracods were buried alive 450 million years ago in a region that is now upstate New York. Ostracods are a large crustacean group that includes shrimps, lobsters, and crabs. One of the fossilized creatures (pictured) has been identified as a new species. It has been named Luprisca incuba after Lucina, the Roman goddess of childbirth.

Luprisca incuba

Derek E.G. Briggs, an author of a research paper on the crustaceans published in Current Biology and director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, says the fossils are a rare find. Briggs says, "This kind of detail is rarely preserved in the fossil record."

The brooding crustaceans were discovered at a fossil deposit known as Beecher's Trilobite Bed. The extremely well preserved fossils are each two to three millimeters long. The researchers say the new specimens show that this kind of brood care has persisted for at least 450 million years.

David Siveter of the University of Leicester in England, the first author of the paper, says, "Only a handful of examples are known where eggs are fossilized and associated with the parent. This discovery tells us that these ancient tiny marine crustaceans took particular care of their brood in exactly the same way as their living relatives."

Images: Siveter et. al.

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