DAO 119:91-99 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02988

Possible shell disease in 100 million-year-old crabs

Adiël A. Klompmaker1,2,3,*, Andrei Y. Chistoserdov4, Darryl L. Felder4

1Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, 1659 Museum Road, PO Box 117800, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA
2Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, Ohio 44242, USA
3Department of Integrative Biology and Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, 1005 Valley Life Sciences Building #3140, Berkeley, California 94720, USA
4Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, PO Box 42451, Lafayette, Louisiana 70504, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Modern organisms exhibit evidence of many diseases, but recognizing such evidence in fossils remains difficult, thus hampering the study of the evolution of disease. We report on 2 molts of the goniodromitid crabs Distefania incerta and Goniodromites laevis from the mid-Cretaceous (late Albian) of Spain, with both species exhibiting damage to the dorsal carapace in otherwise well-preserved specimens. The subcircular to quadratical holes, found in <0.2% of the specimens, resemble damage caused by bacterial infections on the cuticle of modern decapods in terms of size and shape. Abiotic damage, predation, and encrustation followed by damage to the shell provide less satisfactory explanations, although these agents cannot be completely excluded from a role in shell disease etiology. We hypothesize that the observed fossil lesions are caused primarily by bacterial disease that started prior to molting, with or without other agents of initiation. If correct, this is the only known example of such bacterial infections in decapod crustaceans from the fossil record thus far, pushing back the evolutionary history of this type of shell disease by ~100 million years.


KEY WORDS: Bacteria · Cretaceous · Crustacea · Decapoda · Disease · Fossil · Infection · Lesion


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Cite this article as: Klompmaker AA, Chistoserdov AY, Felder DL (2016) Possible shell disease in 100 million-year-old crabs. Dis Aquat Org 119:91-99. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02988

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