This award supports a planning visit to the Chengdu Institute of Geology and Marine Resources in Chendu, China, by Professors Rodney Feldman and Carrie Schweitzer of Kent State. The purpose of the trip is to develop a collaborative research project on the early evolution and radiation of decapods, specifically Crustacea, and the implications for the early history of the Mesozoic Marine Revolution. An extensive assemblage of well preserved fossils has recently been discovered in Luoping, Yunnan Province, and access to the specimens presents an opportunity to expand greatly the understanding of anthropod recovery following the end-Permian extinction.
This planning visit aims to establish an international collaboration in both research and education based on the large repository of well preserved fossils in Chengdu. Few specimens of decapods in China have been described so the proposed study can add considerably to the knowledge base of marine evolution in the early Mesozoic period. In promoting the research collaboration among the participants, this planning visit will establish the basis for a full-scale proposal for research in China. That subsequent research project promises to engage undergraduate and graduate students in the field work.
The Guanling Formation of early Middle Triassic age is exposed in the karst region of Yunnan Province, China. A remarkable assemblage of fossils, referred to as the Luoping Lagerstatte has been documented by over 20,000 specimens. Among them, fossil decapod crustaceans (shrimp and lobsters) formed the basis for this research which added seven new species in five new genera, more than doubling the number of fossil decapod species known from all of China. The research provided evidence that the recovery of fossil decapod crustaceans following the end-Permian extinction was relatively rapid. Furthermore, recognition of a similar assemblage of lobsters and shrimp, of similar age, in Slovenia demonstrates that the dispersal of the organisms throughout the Tethyan region was also rapid. In addition to the discovery of the new species, several observations indicated that the manner of preservation of the lobsters was quite different from that of the shrimp, although they were preserved in close proximity to one another. The lobsters were completely articulated and were undistorted. By contrast, the shrimp were present as complete specimens, but their skeletal parts were typically separated from one another and were crushed and distorted. Although it has not yet been possible to examine the ultrastructure of the skeletal material, it appears that the lobster cuticle is well calcified and quite durable. The shrimp cuticle seems to be much less well calcified, as it is in living shrimp, and that it was subjected to shearing forces following burial. These shearing forces separated the skeletal elements, distorted parts of the remains, and fractured others. Finally, the outcome of this preliminary research clearly demonstrates the necessity for further research on the arthropods of the Luoping Lagerstatte; this will be the basis for further research proposals