Ancient ‘Spider’ Images Surface Secrets: Arachnids Evolution

305 millions years olf fossil of harvestmen

Studying the 305 million years old harvestmen fossil images, researchers and archaeologists have discovered that the forefathers of existing arachnids had 2 pair of eyes and not just one. Experts from University of Manchester in collaboration with researchers from the American Museum of Natural History, thinks that the images are sodden with secrets that might surface the facts of history in terms of arachnids evolutions.

For the first time, employing advanced X-ray imaging techniques, researchers could even notice minute details hidden in these exceptionally well preserved fossils. The pristine harvestmen fossil found in eastern France was named as Hastocularis argus. These arachnids had two sets of eyes, the median eyes located at the center of the body and lateral eyes, placed at the side of the body.

Interestingly, though the harvestmen fossils had eight legs, researchers say that they are more closely associated with scorpions, instead of spiders. According to author and a palaeontologist at the University of Manchester, Dr Russell Garwood, arachnids can possess both sets of eyes (median as well as lateral), unlike the modern harvestmen which have just the median eyes and have lost the lateral eyes. The findings from the fossil would serve as a surge in our existing knowledge of the evolution of this group.

The discovery made by the researchers were backed by findings, obtained by analyzing the expression of an eye stalk gene in modern day living harvestmen and in the embryo they show clues of lateral eyes that has been now lost.

As per Prashant Sharma, co-author and postdoctoral researcher at the American Museum of Natural History says that they are fortunate to get so well preserved fossils of harvestman, which helped them to answer some basic unsolved queries related to the evolutionary history of these organisms. Finding fossils of terrestrial arthropods such as harvestmen are rare to find as their exoskeletons do not preserve so well. And therefore, this rare fossil have given them the opportunity to understand the anatomy of harvestmen that lived occupied earth some hundreds and millions of years back. They even found that the embryos of modern harvestmen still contain traces of eye-growth structures that was seen only in the fossil.

Thanks to the new X-ray imaging technology that helped the researchers to study and reveal interesting facts, like never before, from the fossils of harvestmen, preserved in a rare three dimensional way. May be with the help of such advanced technology, we can find what unique feature is lost from our ancestors that roamed some millions of years ago.

Source: AlphaGalileo

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