Fossil of Daddy Longlegs Suggest its Ancestors had Second Set of Eyes
By Parismita Goswami | April 11, 2014 9:35 PM EST
305-million-year-old fossil of a daddy longleg, a joint-legged invertebrate has been discovered by scientists. The fossil suggests that the ancient ancestors of this creature, also called as harvestmen had four eyes compared to the two eyed harvestmen found these days.
Wiki Commons/ Bruce Marlin
Fossil of Daddy Longlegs Suggest its Ancestors had a Second Set of Eyes (Wiki Commons/ Bruce Marlin)
The scientists at the University of Manchester in UK and the American Museum of Natural History in New York unearthed the fossil in eastern France, which can help in understanding the evolutionary history of harvestmen - a group of arachnids generally referred as daddy longlegs found in North America and the UK.
"Terrestrial arthropods like harvestmen have a sparse fossil record because their exoskeletons don't preserve well. As a result, some fundamental questions in the evolutionary history of these organisms remain unresolved. This exceptional fossil has given us a rare and detailed look at the anatomy of harvestmen that lived hundreds of millions of years ago." Prashant Sharma, one of the lead authors of the study and a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, said in a statement.
Arachnids generally have two kinds of eyes, lateral (on the side of the body) and median (near the middle of the body). However, current harvestmen lack the lateral eyes. But, a new species, called Hastocularis argus had both lateral and median eyes as described by the researchers. High-resolution X-ray imaging was used to study the fossil's distinctive anatomy.
Despite harvestmen having eight long legs, they don't belong to spider group, but are closely related to scorpions among the species of arachnids.
"Fossils preserved in three dimensions are quite rare. Our X-ray techniques have allowed us to reveal this fossil in more detail than we would have dreamed possible two decades ago." Russell Garwood, a research fellow at the University of Manchester, said in the statement.
Phot Credit: Wiki Commons/Bruce Marlin
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