Whence Come Mandibulate Arthropods? – #365papers – 2017 – 123

#365papers for May 3, 2017

Aria and Caron, 2017, Burgess Shale fossils illustrate the origin of the mandibulate body plan: Nature, doi:10.1038/nature22080

What’s it about?

The authors describe a fossil from the Burgess Shale that is likely a primitive member of the ‘mandibulate’ arthropods, those exoskeleton-bearing organisms that possess mouth structures called mandibles. Using this new description, they are able to better understand the relationship between mandibulates and other important arthropod groups.

Why does it matter?

The Burgess Shale is best known for its preservation of soft parts of organisms. Those soft parts often are what distinguishes one animal group from another. Since the Burgess Shale is also quite old, its fossils are early representatives of important groups alive today.

Why did I read this?

Honestly, when I first read ‘mandibulate,’ I thought this paper was about jaws in early fishes. Oops.

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