Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A new species of Ostracod from the Pleistocene of Sicily.

Ostracods are small Crustaceans with a bivalved body plan; their body is sandwiched laterally between two large valves, with the animal using its legs to generate a current through the shell, enabling it to feed, and in many cases swim (check). Ostracods are small (seldom much over a millimetre) and can be very abundant, making them common fossils in many deposits. They also often have distinctive shell ornamentation, enabling the identification of species from valves alone, and are both fast-evolving and sensitive to a range of environmental conditions, making them useful in both biostratigraphy (dating rocks using fossils) and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

In a paper published in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica on in October 2014, Francesco Sciuto of the Palaeoecological Research Group at the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Science at Catania University describes a new species of Ostracod from silty sands determined to date from the Galesian Stage (earliest Pleistocene, between 2.58 and 1.80 million years old) on the Capo Milazzo Peninsula in northeast Sicily.

The new species is placed in the genus Nemoceratina and subgenus Pariceratina and given the specific name barrieri, in honour of Pascal Barrier, of the Institut Polytecnique LaSalle-Beauvais, for his work on the geology of Sicily. Nemoceratina (Pariceratina) barrieriis described from four right and two left valves, the largest of which is 700 by 324 μm. The valves are sub-triangular, with three elongate spines and numerous finer spines and denticles.


Nemoceratina (Pariceratina) barrieri.(1), Left valve, external lateral view. Scale bar 200 μm. (2) Right valve, external lateral view. Scale bar 200μm. (3) Left valve, external lateral view. Scale bar 200 μm. (4) Right valve, external dorsal view. Scale bar 200 μm. (5) Left valves, external dorsal view partially slanting. Scale bar 200 μm. (6) Left valves, external dorsal view partially slanting. Scale bar 200 μm. (7) Right valve, internallateral view. Scale bar 200 μm. (8) Right valve, internal lateral view, detail of the anterior marginal area. Scale bar 100 μm. (9) External lateral view, normal pores. Scale bar 10 μm. (10) Right valve, internal lateral view, detail of the posterior marginal area. Scale bar 50 μm. (11) Right valve, internal lateral view, partially slanting. Scale bar 200 μm. (12) External lateral view, normal pores. Scalebar 10 μm. Scuito (2014).

Ostracods of the subgenus Nemoceratina (Pariceratina) first appeared in the Triassic and are still extant. They are interpreted as being a deepwater species, which is consistent with the find at Capo Milazzo, where it occurs in sediments that have produced other deepwater species.

See also…

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...


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, largely due to their...


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