Scientists from University College Cork accidentally found the oldest wood lice in a long-found fossil.
Genetic studies show that this group of crustaceans appeared about 450 million years ago. However, until recently, we did not know a single example of what these arthropods looked like at that time. We didn’t even know where they lived – on land or in water. Our accidental discovery significantly advanced the study of the history and evolution of woodlice and land colonization.
Ninon Robin, from University College Cork.
Scientists from Ireland, while studying a fossil that was found at the beginning of the 20th century, discovered an imprint of the oldest woodlice.
Scientists assumed that this creature – it was named Oxyuropoda – lived in the Paleozoic seas, but they could not determine its exact species.
Further, the researchers using digital microscopy, ultraviolet cameras, and other tools for studying the fossils, studied the find in more detail. It turned out that the find was not a marine crustacean, but a land one.
This simultaneously makes it the most ancient representative of its kind on Earth and one of the first animals that began to live on land in the Paleozoic era. Paleontologists have estimated its age at 360-370 million years.