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フェズアタ頁岩からの化石。 左から右へ、非石灰化節足動物(マレロモルファ)、古骨虫類、三葉虫。 クレジット: エマニュエル・マーティン

モロッコのタイチョーテにある新たな化石遺跡は、体長2メートルまでの巨大な節足動物が4億7000万年前に海を支配していたことを示唆している。 このサイトは、フェズアタ生物相と地球上の初期の生命についての新たな洞察を提供します。

モロッコのタイチョーテにある新たな化石遺跡から、4億7000万年前には巨大な節足動物が海を支配していたことが明らかになった。 この場所は、より広いフェズアタ生物相の一部であり、自由に泳ぎ回る多数の大型節足動物が生息しており、中には体長 2 メートルに達する可能性のあるものもあります。 この発見は、これまでに研究された他のフェズアタ頁岩遺跡とは異なり、古生物学的および生態学的研究に新たな洞察をもたらします。 フェズアタ頁岩は、オルドビス紀前期の進化を理解する上で、世界で最も重要な地質学的遺跡 100 ヶ所の 1 つとして認識されています。







ネクトン節足動物の大きな破片。 クレジット: ベルトラン・ルフェーブル


エクセター大学と雲南大学のシャオヤ・マー博士は、次のように付け加えた。[{” attribute=””>species of the Fezouata Biota, and some will certainly be new species.

“Nevertheless, their large size and free-swimming lifestyle suggest they played a unique role in these ecosystems.”

The Fezouata Shale was recently selected as one of the 100 most important geological sites worldwide because of its importance for understanding the evolution during the Early Ordovician period, about 470 million years ago.

Fossils discovered in these rocks include mineralized elements (eg shells), but some also show exceptional preservation of soft parts such as internal organs, allowing scientists to investigate the anatomy of early animal life on Earth.

Fezouata Shale Fossil Site

The newly discovered site from the Fezouata Shale. Credit: Bertrand Lefebvre

Animals of the Fezouata Shale, in Morocco’s Zagora region, lived in a shallow sea that experienced repeated storm and wave activities, which buried the animal communities and preserved them in place as exceptional fossils.

However, nektonic (or free-swimming) animals remain a relatively minor component overall in the Fezouata Biota. 

The new study reports the discovery of the Taichoute fossils, preserved in sediments that are a few million years younger than those from the Zagora area and are dominated by fragments of giant arthropods.

“Carcasses were transported to a relatively deep marine environment by underwater landslides, which contrasts with previous discoveries of carcass preservation in shallower settings, which were buried in place by storm deposits,” said Dr. Romain Vaucher, from the University of Lausanne.

Professor Allison Daley, also from the University of Lausanne, added: “Animals such as brachiopods are found attached to some arthropod fragments, indicating that these large carapaces acted as nutrient stores for the seafloor dwelling community once they were dead and lying on the seafloor.”

Dr. Lukáš Laibl, from the Czech Academy of Sciences, who had the opportunity to participate in the initial fieldwork, said: “Taichoute is not only important due to the dominance of large nektonic arthropods.

“Even when it comes to trilobites, new species so far unknown from the Fezouata Biota are found in Taichoute.”

Dr. Bertrand Lefebvre, from the University of Lyon, who is the senior author on the paper, and who has been working on the Fezouata Biota for the past two decades, concluded: “The Fezouata Biota keeps surprising us with new unexpected discoveries.”

The paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is entitled: “New fossil assemblages from the Early Ordovician Fezouata Biota.”

Reference: “New fossil assemblages from the Early Ordovician Fezouata Biota” by Farid Saleh, Romain Vaucher, Muriel Vidal, Khadija El Hariri, Lukáš Laibl, Allison C. Daley, Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco, Yves Candela, David A. T. Harper, Javier Ortega-Hernández, Xiaoya Ma, Ariba Rida, Daniel Vizcaïno and Bertrand Lefebvre, 13 December 2022, Scientific Reports.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-25000-z

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