Fossil horseshoe crab with track

Museum of Natural History of Venice

Museum of Natural History of Venice

This fossil track represents the last walk in life of a Mesolimulus walchi, a horseshoe crab of the Cretaceous, which can be seen in the terminal portion of the plate. The cause of the sudden death of this specimen, as well as of many other invertebrates in the same lagoon environment, represented a biological enigma not easy to solve since the 19th century. Some paleontologists argued that a sudden drop in sea level left the animals out of the water, causing their death after a brief and futile escape to the sea, whereas subsequent studies pointed to a sudden decrease of oxygen in the water. Today, however, comparing the Solnhofen environment with similar present-day habitats, it seems more likely that animals on the bottom of these lagoons have died due to water poisoning caused by the proliferation of dinoflagellates or other toxic microscopic algae (Giancarlo Ligabue Foundation Collection).

Show lessRead more
  • Title: Fossil horseshoe crab with track
  • Rights: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia Photo by Barbara Favaretto - MSNVE
  • Scientific name: Kouphichnium walchi, Mesolimulus walchi
  • Origin: Germany, Solhnofen
  • Dating: Cretaceous
  • Catalogue number: MSNVE-3625