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Soft-body preservation in the leaiid clam shrimp (Branchiopoda, Diplostraca) and its palaeoecological implications

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Leaia is a special genus of extinct “conchostracan” branchiopods; its soft parts have not been known until now. The leaiid specimens with soft bodies reported in the present paper came from two localities: the Upper Carboniferous Canso Group of New Brunswick, Canada, and the Permian Mount Glossopteris Formation of the Ohio Range, Holick Mountains, Antarctica. They include head, biramous antennae, mandible, shell gland, male claspers, and digestive tube. These parts together fully demonstrate that the leaiid clam shrimp indeed should be attributed to the crustaceans, instead of Mollusca. Based on the ribbed valves and structure of soft parts it should be placed in the branchiopodan Diplostraca. We believe that this group, which went extinct at the end of the Permian, is quite different from those of Laevicaudata, Spinicaudata, and Cyclestheriida. Hence, it should have its own higher taxon, Leaiina. The well-developed and sharply pointed head, delicate and short biramous antennae, in concert with the radial ribs on the valves probably indicate a burrowing in-faunal habit.

Affiliations: 1: 1State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy; Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, P.R. China; 2: 2Burke Museum of Natural History and Cultures, University of Washington, Box 1567, Langley, WA 98260, U.S.A.


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