Unravel the nature of

Scientists found out what was really mysterious arthropods, which caused noise in paleontological circles.

this year the group headed Syaodona Chen (Xiaodong Cheng) from the natural history Museum, Dalian (China) published in peer-reviewed scientific journal Acta Geologica Sinica article about a remarkable discovery. It was about the fossil spider is of generous proportions (body length, even without limbs was a few centimeters). The fossils were recovered from rocks of the Cretaceous period. The researchers gave the new species the name Mongolarachne chaoyangensis.

However, the publication has caused other scientists a lot of questions. Suspicion of wrong interpretation of the data was strengthened by the fact that scientists lacked fossil evidence from the ground himself. The fossil was found by local residents and sold to researchers.

One of the skeptics contacted the expert on fossil spiders by Paul Selden (Paul Selden) from the University of Kansas in the United States. The scientist is not satisfied with the photographs and personally examined the sample.

“I immediately understood that here something not so: it was clearly not a spider, says Selden. – He was no different [distinctive spiders] parts of the body. He had too many segments, six legs and huge eyes.”

the Researchers also drew attention to the fact that in the area where has been bought the sample, I often find fossils of crustaceans. Then experts have suspected that the finder of ancient animal the locals just added him extra limbs.

Crustacean species Cricoidoscelosus aethus. To this species probably belongs and made a noise the fossil.Photo Selden et al.

the fact that in the locality the specimens of ancient crustaceans are caught quite frequently and are sold relatively cheap. Enterprising natives, apparently, decided to make the finds more exotic and intensecheat, and more expensive animal. They may never thought about the fact that scientists are deceiving: the goods could be bought and tourists.

to test their hypothesis, paleontologists have placed the sample under the microscope.

“Fluorescence microscopy is a good way to distinguish what is drawn from what really [is present in the stone],” explains Selden.

the Study of fossils has confirmed the worst suspicions of scientists. The illustration below (figure A) shows the results of this analysis. Actually fossils are marked in red color, the breed is bright blue. The yellow traces of oil paint, which “artists” painting arthropod. The bright white color of the marked cracks were repaired by the sellers. The figure In gray shows a repaired crack, and the brown – finished part.

the results of the study sample by fluorescence microscopy.Illustration of Selden et al.

the Researchers were convinced that before them literally embellished crustaceans. The poor condition of the specimen did not allow to accurately establish its specific identity. However, the animal was classified as Cricoidoscelosus aethus is the most common species of crustaceans in this geological formation. As for the newfound species M. chaoyangensis, he returned to oblivion as the obvious mistake of researchers.

Selden notes that fake fossil unscrupulous sellers – the usual case. However, extremely rarely happens that a description of such a “monster” hit in a peer-reviewed journal.

“the People who described it [the fossil] is a very good paleontologists. They’re just not experts on spiders” – emphasizes Selden.

His exposure of Selden and his colleagues published in a special edition of Palaeoentomolgy. Note that among the authors of the new article is and Chapter have made the “opening” of the spider group Cheng. This fact again recalls that a scientist is not one who never fails, but one who admits his mistakes and learns from them.

By the way, earlier “News.Science” (nauka.vesti.ru) wrote about how the ichthyosaur skeleton attached a strange tail. We talked about the fact that “the blood of the dinosaur” may be the product of the impact of the ground.

Text: To.Science