High-fidelity X-ray micro-tomography reconstruction of siderite-hosted Carboniferous arachnids

Russell Garwood, Jason A. Dunlop, Mark D. Sutton

Abstract

A new approach to maximize data recovery from siderite-hosted fossils is presented. Late Carboniferous trigonotarbids (Arachnida: Trigonotarbida) from Coseley, UK, were chosen to assess the potential of high-resolution X-ray micro-tomography (XMT). Three-dimensional computer reconstruction visualizes the animals at 20 µm or better resolution, resolving subtle and previously unseen details. Novel data recovered includes (possibly plesiomorphic) retention of endites on leg coxae of Cryptomartus hindi (Anthracomartidae) and highlights further similarities between this family and the Devonian Palaeocharinidae. Also revealed is a flattened body with robust anterior limbs, implying a hunting stance similar to modern crab spiders (Thomisidae). Eophrynus prestvicii (Eophrynidae) had more gracile limbs but a heavily ornamented body, with newly identified upward-pointing marginal spines on the opisthosoma. Its habitus is comparable with certain modern laniatorid harvestmen (Opiliones). These findings demonstrate the potential of XMT to revolutionize the study of siderite-hosted Coal Measures fossils.

Footnotes

    • Received June 11, 2009.
    • Accepted July 13, 2009.
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