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Researchers from Harvard University have examined the Cretapsara athanata, the oldest ever crab. The name was given to it by the scientists who discovered it. It means the immortal spirit of the clouds and water.

The fossil may be the missing link for crabs

The scientists found the crab trapped in amber, where they believe it was for 100 million years. The fossil traces back to the dinosaur era, and scientists believe that it may be the missing link in the evolution of the crabs.

The discovery has led study authors to believe that the tiny crustacean is the ancestor of today’s red crab, which during the breeding seasons migrate by the millions. Crabs utilize their respiratory organs to absorb oxygen from the water. Thus it wasn’t surprising that the fossil’s organs were well preserved with the gills, bulging eyes, shell, and claws intact. Moreover, scientists rarely find crabs in amber.

During a university press release, Dr. Javier Luque, the lead author, stated that the fossil was completely intact, which he found remarkable. In addition, researchers believe that it lived on land and in the sea.

The fossil amazingly resembles some of its descendants that live on the shore. This factor sheds light on the evolution of crabs as their developed gills evolved into lung-like tissues that assist them in breathing.

The crab might have lived at the same time with theĀ 

Domestic miners collected the fossil, and the fossil’s perfect preservation amidst other amber rivals has earned it a new branch in the crab’s tree of life. The researchers conclude a Cretaceous Crab Revolution where the Cretapsara lived together with Callichimaera. The latter is considered a mysterious stone fossil aged 95 million years and included delicate parts that were still identifiable.

The period was when the initial modern groups began, while several crabs disappeared. Researchers were grateful to the amber, as its distinct characteristic to entomb ancient living things opens a window to the past.

The crab fossil joins the likes of specimens such as feathered dinosaur tails that have been crucial in the quest to reveal the story of life on earth.