The fossilized remains of the world’s oldest recorded spider crabs have been discovered by scientists in Spain. The crabs are part of a larger discovery which yielded the remains of eight new species of crustaceans.
The fossils were recovered from the Koskobilo quarry located in northern Spain. Researchers uncovered the spider crabs, named Cretamaja granulata and Koskobilius postangustus, resting aside other decapod crustacean species. Crabs, shrimp, and lobsters all fall under the decapod crustacean category.
An article by Live Science writes that the newly discovered crabs are far older than the preceding record holder. Study author Adiël Klompmaker, a postdoctoral researcher with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida remarked on the age difference:
“The previous oldest one was from France and is some millions of years younger. So this discovery in Spain in quite impressive and pushes back the origin of spider crabs as known from fossils.”
According to Futurity, research into the early evolution of crustaceans such as the ones discovered in Spain may bring insight into modern day species. Ocean acidification and coral bleaching can cause reef decline. Scientists hope to study what affects this change has on animal life.
Klompmaker speculated on the connection between the reef and the animal life it supported:
“The reef in Spain died soon after many decapods were still around. Something must have happened in the environment that caused reefs in the area to vanish, and with it, probably many of the decapods that were living in these reefs. Not many decapods are known from the time after the reefs disappeared in the area.”
Adiël Klompmaker will expand on his team’s findings, including the world’s oldest spider crabs, in an upcoming issue of the journal Cretaceous Research.