Preservation of three-dimensional anatomy in phosphatized fossil arthropods enriches evolutionary inference

Achim H Schwermann, Tomy dos Santos Rolo, Michael S Caterino, Gunter Bechly, Heiko Schmied, Tilo Baumbach, Thomas van de Kamp - University of Bonn, Germany; Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany; Clemson University, United States; State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, Germany

External and internal morphological characters of extant and fossil organisms are crucial to establishing their systematic position, ecological role and evolutionary trends. (…) We found well-preserved three-dimensional anatomy in mineralized arthropods from Paleogene fissure fillings and demonstrate the value of these fossils by utilizing digitally reconstructed anatomical structure of a hister beetle. The new anatomical data facilitate a refinement of the species diagnosis and allowed us to reject a previous hypothesis of close phylogenetic relationship to an extant congeneric species. Our findings suggest that mineralized fossils, even those of macroscopically poor preservation, constitute a rich but yet largely unexploited source of anatomical data for fossil arthropods.

How Amira-Avizo Software is used

3D reconstruction followed the protocol described by Ruthensteiner and Heß (2008) and van de Kamp et al., (2014); using Amira (versions 5.5, 6) and Avizo (version 8.1) for segmentation of the tomographic volumes.