Terrestrial isopods from Spanish amber (Crustacea: Oniscidea) : insights into the Cretaceous soil biota (American Museum novitates, no. 3974)

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American Museum of Natural History.
Terrestrial isopods (Crustacea: Oniscidea) are a model group for studying the colonization of land. However, their fossil record is remarkably scarce and restricted to amber inclusions, and therefore amber deposits represent valuable windows to their past diversity and morphology. Here we present a new collection of 11 terrestrial isopod specimens preserved in Albian-aged amber from the Peñacerrada I outcrop, northern Spain, which collectively represent the most thoroughly documented fauna of Mesozoic Oniscidea. The three new genera and species identified belong to three of five major groups of the Oniscidea: Eoligiiscus tarraconensis, new genus and species (Ligiidae), Autrigoniscus resinicola, new genus and species (Synocheta: Trichoniscidae), and Heraclitus helenae, new genus and species (Crinocheta: Detonidae?). These taxa significantly expand the known fossil record of Oniscidea and demonstrate that considerable cladogenesis had already transpired by the Albian. The assemblage represents the earliest-known diversification of Oniscidea, extending direct evidence of terrestrialization in the group back to the late Early Cretaceous. These new taxa exhibit some characteristics that may inform hypotheses relating to general patterns of terrestrial isopod evolution. A discussion is provided about different aspects of the paleoecology and biology of the fossils compared to the Recent fauna. The new species indicate that Cretaceous isopods were a group of considerable adaptive diversity, exhibiting innovations analogous to what Recent isopods would exhibit 105 million years later.
32 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 26 cm.
Isopoda -- Spain., Oniscidae -- Spain., Paleoecology -- Cretaceous., Eoligiiscus tarraconensis., Autrigoniscus resinicola., Heraclitus helenae.