Tuesday 2 September 2014

A new species of freshwater Ostracod from the Munich Botanical Gardens.

Ostracods are small Crustaceans with bivalve shells with a long fossil record. They typically have ornate shells and are both fast evolving and environmentally sensitive, making them useful to biostratigraphers (palaeontologists that use fossils to date rocks and strata) and to palaeoenvironmentalists and palaeoclimatologists (scientists who study ancient environments and climates). Freshwater Ostracods tend to lack the ornamentation seen in marine forms, making them less immediately useful, however they are equally fast evolving and environmentally sensitive, making them a useful group to scientists with perseverance. 

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 24 June 2014, Christina Nagler and Juergen Geist of the Aquatic Systems Biology Unit at the Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Renate Matzke-Karasz of the Palaeontology and Geobiology, GeoBio-Center at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, describe a new species of freshwater Ostracod from containers holding water plants at the Munich Botanical Gardens.

The new species is placed in the genus Tanycypris, and given the specific name alfonsi, in honour of Alfons Nagengast, the grandfather of Christina Nagler, who passed away in the month when the new species was discovered. The genus Tanycypris is thought to originate in East Asia, from where most species are known; species of known East Asian origins have been found living in Rice fields in Italy and Greece, where they are thought to be invasive, and other species are known from South America and Madagascar. The origin of Tanycypris alfonsi is unclear. 

Tanycypris alfonsi is a smooth shelled Ostracod measuring roughly 1.09–1.27 mm by 0.39–0.53 mm. Thirty individuals were examined, all female. As is often the case for extant freshwater Ostracods, the recognition of Tanycypris alfonsi as a distinct species relies partly on soft-tissue structures that would be unlikely to be preserved in a fossil specimen.

Tanycypris alfonsi. (A) Right valve interior view; (B) left valve interior view; (C) right valve exterior view; (D) left valve exterior view; (E) carapace in ventral view; (F) carapace in dorsal view. Nagler et al. (2014).

See also…

Ostracods are small Crustaceans which conceal their bodies between two large valves in a bodyplan convergent with the unrelated Bivalve Molluscs and Brachiopods. They have an extensive fossil record, beginning in the Late Cambrian, and are probably the most abundant fossil Crustaceans...

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