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Zoology: Evolution

Biologists at LMU have identified two 168-million-year-old fossils as the oldest known parasitic representatives of the crustacean group Isopoda. The study sheds new light on the evolutionary history of isopods.


Excerpt from LMU press release of March 16, 2017:

The oldest known parasitic isopod

Isopods -- of which the woodlouse is perhaps the best known representative -- are crustaceans, related to shrimps and lobsters. Representatives of this crustacean group exhibit a wide variety of lifestyles and exploit a large spectrum of ecological niches. Cymothoida, an isopod ingroup, is composed of different sub-groups that evolved different feeding strategies, from free-living scavengers to host-specific and obligate parasites depending on their hosts for their survival; hence, isopods in this group show an extremely diverse morphology. A new study of the oldest fossil parasitic isopods discovered to date, carried out by LMU biologists Christina Nagler and Joachim Haug, has allowed reconstructing the evolution of parasitism within Cymothoida in detail. The findings have just appeared in the online journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. BMC Evolutionary Biology

LMU press release