Fossilization Preserved a 310 Million-Year-Old Horseshoe Crab’s Brain

Paleontology is the study of examining and studying the fossils of plants and animals. Paleontologist usually spends hours of days and years into slitting rocks and looking for the perfect fossil. They were recently able to find a 310 million-year-old horseshoe crab brain that was perfectly preserved over the time it has waited to be found. Of all the soft tissues of an organism that has been preserved as a fossil, brains are told to be the most difficult to be preserved in any form. Paleontologist Russel Bicknell of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, says that the percentage of slitting a rock so precisely to get such a detailed specimen of that particular part of the organism is very little and unbelievably rare. The find gave many significant hints to arthropod’s evolution, Bicknell and Colleagues report, because the preserved brain of the organism looked “remarkably” similar to those of modern horseshoe crabs. The brain’s unusual “mode of preservation” could also help the paleontologist of the future to lead towards new places in where to look in order to find the fossils of the organism’s soft tissues. The reason why soft tissues are so tricky to find as a fossil, especially for animals like crabs, is because they tend to degrade a lot faster than the fossilization can actually occur to it. This is also the reason why any other “fatty structure” of the body in an organism is highly uncommon to be found as a fossil. Even today, only around 20 samples of fossilized neural tissues have been discovered and recorded. This new knowledge and description of the brain was dug up from the Mazon Creek fossil best west of Chicago. This site is known as one of the only sites in the world that could have saved the brain’s structure so well preserved. Paleontologist Victoria McCoy of the University of Wisconsin says that Mazon Creek is a place where very exceptional fossilization is found as the fossils are preserved inside concretions. But this is also the reason why the Mazon Creek fossil bed has “really good, soft tissue preservation inside these concretions.”

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