Tiny individuals attached to a new Silurian arthropod suggest a unique mode of brood care
Briggs et al
The ∼430-My-old Herefordshire, United Kingdom, Lagerstätte has yielded a diversity of remarkably preserved invertebrates, many of which provide fundamental insights into the evolutionary history and ecology of particular taxa. Here we report a new arthropod with 10 tiny arthropods tethered to its tergites by long individual threads. The head of the host, which is covered by a shield that projects anteriorly, bears a long stout uniramous antenna and a chelate limb followed by two biramous appendages. The trunk comprises 11 segments, all bearing limbs and covered by tergites with long slender lateral spines. A short telson bears long parallel cerci. Our phylogenetic analysis resolves the new arthropod as a stem-group mandibulate. The evidence suggests that the tethered individuals are juveniles and the association represents a complex brooding behavior. Alternative possibilities—that the tethered individuals represent a different epizoic or parasitic arthropod—appear less likely.