Crustaceans Evolved 100 Million Years Earlier Than Thought, Study Finds

American Museum of Natural History
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Work led by Jo Wolfe, who worked on this as an EAPS postdoc, resolves gaps in our understanding of the decapod (shrimp, lobsters, and crabs) tree of life

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Research using phylogenetics and genomics, provides a new evolutionary timeline for decapods, which include over 15,000 living species of crustaceans like crabs, shrimp and lobsters.

"To determine the evolutionary relationships within the clade, the researchers used a newly developed set of more than 400 genes conserved across the genomes of all known decapods, which they sequenced for 94 species representing almost all major groups," writes AMNH. "The team, whose study is out this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, expects that their framework can be used for future studies of decapod evolution."

Their analysis revealed that these critters evolved much earlier than previously thought 450 million years ago, verses 100 million years ago. And so, modern lineage diversification began earlier -- after a mass extinction 250 million years ago. When it comes to genetic similarities, the researchers found that shrimp species evolved earlier than lobsters and crabs, which have a single evolutionary origin.

Story Image: The Caribbean hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus) is one of 15,000 living species of decapods. (Credit: © J. Wolfe)