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Marsupial brood care in Cretaceous tanaidaceans

Abstract : Parental care in animal evolution has long fascinated biologists, but tracing this complex of behavioural repertoires is challenging, as these transitory states often leave no corporeal traces as fossils. Among modern invertebrates, the tanaidaceans (Malacostraca: Peracarida), a lineage of marsupial crustaceans, show an interesting variety of brooding strategies. Here we report on fossil tanaidaceans from the Cretaceous of Spain and France that provide conclusive evidence for marsupial care of brood-offspring. Two exceptionally preserved female specimens of Alavatanais carabe and A. margulisae from Late Albian Peñacerrada I amber (Spain) possess four pairs of rudimentary oostegites, indicating formation of a marsupium. From Recent data, given the taxonomic distribution of a marsupium of four pairs of oostegites, we hypothesize that this may be plesiomorphic for the Tanaidomorpha. We also report on a peculiar tanaidacean specimen referable to the fossil family Alavatanaidae, Daenerytanais maieuticus gen. et sp. nov., from Early Cenomanian La Buzinie amber (France), preserved with its marsupial pouch and content. Our discoveries provide early evidence of the peracarid reproductive strategy, as seen in modern Tanaidacea, and argue that this form of parental care may have played a role in the diversification of the lineage during this period.
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Alba Sánchez-García, Xavier Delclòs, Michael Engel, Graham Bird, Vincent Perrichot, et al.. Marsupial brood care in Cretaceous tanaidaceans. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7 (1), pp.4390. ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-04050-8⟩. ⟨insu-01550204⟩

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