Ancient Crustacean Fossils: A “Portrait of Prehistoric Parenthood”

Written by on March 18, 2014 in Invertebrates, Marine Life
Luprisca incuba with limbs and eggs.

Luprisca incuba with limbs and eggs. Image copyright: Siveter et al.

An international team of scientists recently uncovered a “portrait of prehistoric parenthood.”

Deep in the fossil record, scientists discovered a nursery with a species of ostracod (a group related to shrimps, lobsters and crabs) new to science. The extra-exciting part is that the specimens were preserved incubating their eggs together, prompting the team to name the new species Luprisca incuba after Lucina, goddess of childbirth.

This was a rare find. Professor David Siveter of the University of Leicester explained in a news release that¬†“Only a handful of examples are known where eggs are fossilized and associated with the parent.” It shows that the ancient marine crustaceans, ostracods, cared for their brood in the exact same way as their living relatives and that the strategy hasn’t changed for 450 million years.

The L. incuba fossils were found in mudstone rocks in New York State. The fossils were two to three millimeters long and “exceptionally well preserved,” both the shell and soft tissue. The scientists found limbs and a clutch of eggs within some of the shell.

To learn more, read the full news release: Scientists discover new fossil species revealing parental care of the young from 450 million years ago, and name it after Lucina, goddess of childbirth.

Luprisca incuba with eggs protruding from the rear and limbs at the front.

Luprisca incuba with eggs protruding from the rear and limbs at the front. Image Image copyright: Siveter et al.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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