A new discovery might boost your Jurassic Park cane, as the first-ever genuine crab from the dinosaur era has been discovered preserved in amber. Cretapsara athanata, a crab estimated to be over 100 million years old, is still in excellent form, with the structure of its gills intact. Because the amazing find is in such superb condition, it might provide some intriguing insights into how land crabs split from their earlier sea counterparts.
Crab gills are extremely sensitive, and as a result, they don’t fare well after millions of years of preservation. Despite this, the gills of C. athnata were discovered to be in exceptionally good condition by the researchers in the current report, which was published in the journal Science Advances. Their anatomy suggests that this crab had an amphibious or freshwater existence at one point, indicating that there was an evolutionary break from its marine-dwelling predecessors.
This is significant because it would show that real crabs lived in freshwater settings far earlier in the Late Cretaceous than previously thought, bridging a gap of about 50 million years in the scanty fossil record (in terms of bejeweled crabs).
“Cretapsara athanata, whose name means ‘invincible Cretaceous spirit of clouds and waters,’ appears to be the oldest non-marine crab on record, bridging the gap between the predicted molecular time of split of non-marine crabs (130 million years ago) and their much younger fossil record (75–50 million years ago),” study author Dr Javier Luque told IFLScience. “It also tells us that since the mid-Cretaceous, real crabs have colonized non-marine environments on their own a dozen times.”
It appears to be a fine crab, so where did it originate from? The gleaming fossil in issue was part of a commercial batch of “raw” amber fragments obtained by Burmese miners and sold to a gemstone merchant at a fair in 2015. Fortunately, the rough diamond (figuratively speaking) was polished later, revealing its actual value. It was eventually purchased by the Longyin Amber Museum in Yunnan Province, China, and is currently part of the museum’s scientific collection.
It was hiding in either brackish or freshwater near a coastal estuary approximately 100 million years ago, a tragic location for a teeny crab that may well be bridging a large gap between marine and non-marine crabs.
Luque and colleagues plan to investigate the interesting mechanics behind carcinization, a unique evolutionary occurrence in which a variety of organisms opted to become into crabs.
“We want to learn more about why things keep turning into crabs,” Luque said. “We want to look at their transfers from the sea to land and freshwater, as well as their development and diversity over time, resulting to the current forms we see today.” “As part of a National Science Foundation-funded study with a team of colleagues from Florida International University (Heather Bracken-Grissom) and Harvard University (Javier Ortega-Hernandez, Joanna Wolfe, and Javier Luque), we are developing the most complete family tree of life of crabs.”
Do you want to know how to perform at your best? It needs at least ten legs.