Fossil records ‘crab’ death march

By | September 10, 2012

Horseshoe crabThe behaviour of an ancient horseshoe crab in its final moments before death has been captured in the fossil record.

…The fossil trackway of the animal’s last moments – known as a mortichnia, or death march – was discovered in the lithographic limestone of Bavaria in Germany in 2002, where spectacular fossils of the famous feathered dinosaur Archaeopteryx have also been found.

Since then, the fossil trackway had remained an exhibit in the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in the US until Dean Lomax of the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and Christopher Racay began working on a project to describe it

“It’s not particularly rare to find these horseshoe crabs at the end of short traces, but nothing quite as substantially large and scientifically important as this,” he said.

The fossil records an entire walk, and the researchers believe that the abrupt beginning of the trace can be explained by the animal being “flung” into the lagoon during a storm, although they cannot be certain of this interpretation.

However, the quality of preservation allowed the researchers to reconstruct very small details of the animal’s end minutes.

Trackway

via BBC News – Fossil records ‘crab’ death march.

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