Oldest shrimp in the world discovered

360 million year old crustacean is unusually well preserved

The fossil shrimp (above) and a living today © Rodney Feldmann / NOAA
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In a rock formation in Oklahoma, researchers have discovered the world's oldest fossil shrimp. The 360 ​​million year old crustacean is so well-preserved that even the muscle strands of the abdomen are still fully visible. The find, now published in the Journal of Crustacean Biology, provides important information on the evolution of the crustacean group, which includes lobsters and crabs in the narrower sense.

The original cancer was discovered by paleontologist Royal Mapes of Ohio University on an excursion with students. At a height of more than seven centimeters, the oldest find of a prehistoric shrimp is the age of 360 million years old. She probably lived in the deeper waters of a then-North America-covering sea and shared her habitat with ammonites, nautiloids and sponges.

"The oldest known shrimp before this discovery comes from Madagascar, " explains Rodney Feldman of Kent State University. "However, it is much younger with 'only' 245 million years, the shrimp from Oklahoma is another 125 million years older." The shrimp, christened Aciculopoda mapesi, could also be the oldest representative of the decapitated crustaceans, including lobsters and the crabs in the narrower sense belong.

The special - in addition to his age - but is also the unusually good state of conservation of the fossil. The muscles in the back of the cancer are still almost completely conserved and well visible. According to the researchers are particularly favorable conditions at the time of his death responsible for it: "When the animal died, it sank on the seabed, " explains Feldmann. "There, the muscles were conserved through a combination of acidic water and low oxygen content, while the animal was relatively quickly covered by sediment."

(Kent State University, 11.11.2010 - NPO) Display