Paleolimulus, an early limuline (Xiphosurida), from Pennsylvanian-Permian Lagerst├Ątten of Kansas and taphonomic comparison with modern Limulus

Authors: Babcock, Loren E.; Merriam, Daniel F.; West, Ronald R.

Source: Lethaia, Volume 33, Number 3, 27 October 2000 , pp. 129-141(13)

Publisher: Taylor and Francis Ltd

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The Pennsylvanian-Permian horseshoe crab Paleolimulus signatus (Beecher), incorporating as a junior synonym P. avitus Dunbar, is one of the earliest species of the Limulina (Xiphosurida). Some specimens from Kansas, USA, are exceptionally well preserved, retaining intact book gills and appendages. Indistinct, bilobed burrowing traces of variable width occur in association with some examples of P. signatus and may have been produced by that animal. Based on actualistic taphonomic experiments on Limulus polyphemus, ancient horseshoe crabs and other arthropods having non-mineralized exoskeletons are inferred to have become pliable soon after death or moulting, and to have disarticulated slowly prior to burial. Extreme compression, wrinkling, and loose folding of sclerites are attributed to burial of a pliable exoskeleton. Slow preburial disarticulation partly accounts for the exceptional preservation of Paleolimulus remains. Also relevant for the exceptional preservation of these arthropods was burial in estuarine, tidal flat, or lacustrine environments. Because of fluctuating salinity and possibly dessicating conditions, these settings were limiting to scavengers, burrowers, and some microbes that could potentially disarticulate or decompose xiphosurid remains.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 27, 2000

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