Canadian Discovery of Ancient Horseshoe Crab Fossils

ROM Magazine, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Canadian Discovery of Ancient Horseshoe Crab Fossils


Few modern animals are as deserving of the title "living fossil" as the lowly horseshoe crab. Seemingly unchanged since before the Age of Dinosaurs, these venerable sea creatures can now claim a history that reaches back almost half a billion years. In a collaborative research article published in January in the prestigious British journal Palaeontology, a ROM-led team of Canadian scientists revealed rare new horseshoe crab fossils they had discovered in 445 million year old rocks--about 120 million years older than any previously known forms.

ROM paleontologist Dave Rudkin with colleagues Dr. Graham Young of The Manitoba Museum and Dr. Godfrey Nowlan of the Geological Survey of Canada (Calgary) named their remarkable new fossils Lunataspis aurora, meaning "crescent moon shield of the dawn" in reference to their shape, geological age, and northerly discovery sites in Manitoba. Although they are more primitive in several aspects than known horseshoe crabs, their resemblance to living forms is unmistakable.

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Charles Darwin and the Nature of the Naturalist

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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Darwin's approach to science was to observe animals and plants carefully in nature and then to formulate reasonable explanations and testable hypotheses. His work exemplified 19th-century natural history with voyages of discovery, specimen collection and description, and attempts to organize the burgeoning number of species into a coherent system. These traditions are alive and well today in natural history museums. And it is these traditions--answering the questions What is it? …

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