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Awarded Funding - Research Grant PA-RG201401




Research Grant

Award Amount


Award Date

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Comparative experimental taphonomy of marine crustaceans: clues to their fossil record

Principle Applicant

Dr Adiël Klompmaker (University of Florida)


Marine crustaceans are abundant members of modern marine ecosystems and are also well known from the fossil record. However, not much is known about their relative preservation potential due to the lack of comparative taphonomical experiments among crustacean clades. Previous work has focused typically on one crustacean species per study, which makes comparing among clades problematic due to different experimental conditions (e.g., Plotnick (1986) and Butler et al. (2015) for a species of shrimp; Hof and Briggs (1997) for a species of stomatopod; Babcock et al. (2000) for a species of horseshoe crab; and Stempien (2005), Mutel et al. (2008), and Krause et al. (2011) for a species of crab). Shrimps were qualitatively suggested to have a lower preservation potential compared to other crustaceans such as crabs (e.g., Förster 1985), and Klompmaker et al. (2013) showed that exquisite preservation of decapod crustaceans in Late Jurassic Lagerstätten may affect Mesozoic diversity patterns to a certain extent. The lack of comparative research severely hampers our understanding of the differential preservational biases across crustacean clades and, as a result, their true biodiversity through time.

The aim of this research is to address this lack of knowledge by carrying out comprehensive comparative taphonomical experiments (see Brett and Baird 1986; Briggs 1995) based on modern representatives of major marine macrocrustacean clades. The study should help to answer questions such as: What is the rate of decay of a shrimp relative to a crab? Which skeletal parts have the highest likelihood to preserve for each clade? What do the results mean for Cenozoic and Mesozoic biodiversity patterns of crustaceans? Which crustacean clades are unlikely to preserve?

Outcomes (Online Content)

Outcomes (Other)

  • Klompmaker, A. A., Portell, R. W., & Frick, M. G. (2017). Comparative experimental taphonomy of eight marine arthropods indicates distinct differences in preservation potential. Palaeontology, 60(6), 773-794.
  • Klompmaker, A. A., Robins, C. M., Portell, R. W., & De Angeli, A. (2022). Crustaceans as hosts of parasites throughout the Phanerozoic. In: The Evolution and Fossil Record of Parasitism. Topics in Geobiology 50, 121-172. Springer, Cham.
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