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Virtual dissection and lifestyle of a 165 million-year-old female polychelidan lobster

  • Jauvion, Clément
  • Audo, Denis
  • Charbonnier, Sylvain
  • Vannier, Jean
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2016
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Polychelidan lobsters are fascinating crustaceans that were known as fossils before being discovered in the deep-sea. They differ from other crustaceans by having four to five pairs of claws. Although recent palaeontological studies have clarified the systematics and phylogeny of the group the biology of extant polychelidans and first of all their anatomy are poorly documented. Numerous aspects of the evolutionary history of the group remain obscure, in particular how and when polychelidans colonized the deep-sea and became restricted to it. Surprisingly, the biology of extant polychelidans and anatomy of all species, fossil and recent, are poorly documented. Here, X-ray microtomography (XTM), applied to an exceptionally well-preserved specimen from the La Voulte Lagerstätte, reveals for the first time vital aspects of the external and internal morphology of Voulteryon parvulus (Eryonidae), a 165-million-year-old polychelidan: 1) its mouthparts (maxillae and maxillipeds), 2) its digestive tract and 3) its reproductive organs. Comparisons with dissected specimens clearly identify this specimen as a female with mature ovaries. This set of new information offers new insights into the feeding and reproductive habits of Mesozoic polychelidans. Contrasting with other Jurassic polychelidans that lived in shallow-water environments, V. parvulus spawned in, and probably inhabited, relatively deep-water environments as do the survivors of the group.

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