Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient 'spider' images reveal eye-opening secrets

Date:
April 10, 2014
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Stunning images of a 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil reveal ancestors of the modern-day arachnids had two sets of eyes rather than one. The researchers say their findings add significant detail to the evolutionary story of this diverse and highly successful group of arthropods, which are found on every continent except Antarctica.

This is the 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil.
Credit: Paris NHM/Russell Garwood

Stunning images of a 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil reveal ancestors of the modern-day arachnids had two sets of eyes rather than one.

The researchers say their findings, published in the journal Current Biology, add significant detail to the evolutionary story of this diverse and highly successful group of arthropods, which are found on every continent except Antarctica.

University of Manchester scientists, working with colleagues at the American Museum of Natural History, say the X-ray imaging techniques used have allowed them to reveal features of the unusually well-preserved fossil like never before.

The primitive fossilised harvestman, named Hastocularis argus, was found in eastern France and had not only median eyes -- those found near the centre of the body -- but lateral eyes on the side of the body as well.

"Although they have eight legs, harvestmen are not spiders; they are more closely related to another arachnid, the scorpion," said author Dr Russell Garwood, a palaeontologist in the University of Manchester's School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences.

"Arachnids can have both median and lateral eyes, but modern harvestmen only possess a single set of median eyes -- and no lateral ones. These findings represent a significant leap in our understanding of the evolution of this group."

The team supported their results by examining the expression of an 'eye stalk' gene in living harvestmen and found that in a modern harvestman embryo this gene shows hints of a now-lost lateral eye.

Co-author Prashant Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, said: "Terrestrial arthropods like harvestmen have a sparse fossil record because their exoskeletons don't preserve well. As a result, some fundamental questions in the evolutionary history of these organisms remain unsolved.

"This exceptional fossil has given us a rare and detailed look at the anatomy of harvestmen that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. What we were also able to establish is that developing modern harvestmen embryos retain vestiges of eye-growth structures seen only in the fossil."

Dr Garwood added: "Harvestmen fossils preserved in three dimensions are quite rare and our X-ray techniques have allowed us to reveal this exceptional fossil in more detail than we would have dreamed possible just a couple of decades ago."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Russell J. Garwood, Prashant P. Sharma, Jason A. Dunlop, Gonzalo Giribet. A Paleozoic Stem Group to Mite Harvestmen Revealed through Integration of Phylogenetics and Development. Current Biology, April 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.039

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Ancient 'spider' images reveal eye-opening secrets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122153.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2014, April 10). Ancient 'spider' images reveal eye-opening secrets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122153.htm
University of Manchester. "Ancient 'spider' images reveal eye-opening secrets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122153.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins