Tiny Millipede from Cretaceous Interval Present in Burmese Amber

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A workforce of paleontologists from Bulgaria and Germany has discovered the surprisingly uncommon and completely preserved millipede in 99-million-year-old amber from Myanmar (previously Burma).

Burmanopetalum inexpectatum. Image credit: Leif Moritz.

Burmanopetalum inexpectatum. Picture credit score: Leif Moritz.

Millipedes are a extremely various but in addition a largely understudied group of arthropods with over 11,000 described species. The precise variety of species is estimated to be between 15,000 and 80,000.

The whole Mesozoic Period — an interval of geological time from about 252 to 66 million years in the past — is poor in millipede fossils, with lower than a dozen species taxonomically described.

Dubbed Burmanopetalum inexpectatum, the newly-discovered millipede species lived roughly 99 million years in the past (Cretaceous interval).

The traditional creature, about eight.2 mm lengthy, is encased in amber from the Hukawng Valley, Kachin State, northern Myanmar.

It belongs to Callipodida, a small order of spinneret-carrying millipedes.

“We had been so fortunate to search out this specimen so nicely preserved in amber,” mentioned lead writer Professor Pavel Stoev, a researcher on the Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past, Bulgaria.

“With the next-generation micro-CT and the related picture rendering and processing software program, we at the moment are in a position to reconstruct the entire animal and observe the tiniest morphological traits that are not often preserved in fossils.”

“This makes us assured that we’ve got efficiently in contrast its morphology with these of the extant millipedes.”

“It got here as an excellent shock to us that this animal can’t be positioned within the present millipede classification. Although their basic look have remained unchanged within the final 100 million years, as our planet underwent dramatic adjustments a number of occasions on this interval, some morphological traits in Callipodida lineage have developed considerably.”

Professor Stoev and colleagues needed to revise the present millipede classification and introduce a brand new suborder (Burmanopetalidea) and a brand new household (Burmanopetalidae).

“The Mesozoic Period has till now solely been sampled for a dozen species of millipedes, however new findings from Burmese amber are quickly altering the image,” mentioned Pure Historical past Museum London’s Dr. Greg Edgecombe, main professional within the research of fossil arthropods.

The invention is described in a paper within the journal ZooKeys.

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P. Stoev et al. 2019. Dwarfs below dinosaur legs: a brand new millipede of the order Callipodida (Diplopoda) from Cretaceous amber of Burma. ZooKeys 841: 79-96; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.841.34991

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