Excellent three dimensional preservation of 142 specimens of Alanops magnificus gen. et sp. nov. (Chelicerata: Xiphosura) from the Stephanian Konservat-Lagerstätte of Montceau-les-Mines (Saone-et-Loire, France), exposes the carapace design and hitherto unrecorded details of fossil xiphosuran ventral anatomy, and makes possible an interpretation of appendicular functional morphology. All legs are long, slender and chelate. The chelate condition of the fifth leg and the shape of the prosoma (highly vaulted with a subvertical frontal area) indicate that the animal was neither a burrower like recent xiphosurans (e.g. Limulus) nor an active swimmer as suggested for other extinct forms, but was more likely to have been a benthic crawler. The ability to fold up is attested by both partly enrolled specimens showing appendages withdrawn into the prosomal cavity, and by coaptive devices on the external and internal margins of both prosoma and opisthosoma. The low-level articulation system at the boundary between the two shields allowed both the carapace closure and the complete outstretching of the animal. The unusually small adult size of Alanops magnificus gen. et sp. nov. combined with the loss of ophthalmic ridges and spines is interpreted as indicating a paedomorphic derivation from a bellinurine stock. The depositional environment (limnic intramontane basin) and faunal association (dominated by syncarids and bivalves) of Alanops indicate that the animal probably lived in fresh water.