Distribution and ecology

Fossils of the spiny-tailed proto-mantis shrimp, Daidal acanthocercus, have only been identified in the exceptionally preserved Carboniferous Bear Gulch Limestone of central Montana

See a diagram showing the Carboniferous strata of central Montana

However, other species of proto-mantis shrimp have been found in Carboniferous sediments elsewhere in:

  • North America
  • Europe - including Germany, Belgium, England, and Scotland


Daidal acanthocercus was a benthic crustacean. 

The Bear Gulch Limestone fauna which D. acanthocercus is part of includes a wide variety of spectacularly preserved fossils, including:

  • fish
  • invertebrates  - including other crustaceans, molluscs, annelid worms, and sponges
  • plants
  • enigmatic extinct forms of uncertain identity

This fauna probably represents a shallow near-shore marine basin or estuary in a tropical water marine environment.


This proto-mantis shrimp was likely a scavenger or predator of relatively small-bodied prey. The prey probably included several species of invertebrates that are found in the same deposits, such as:

  • other crustaceans
  • worms
  • molluscs


Although this Greek word means 'depths of the sea', it is used to refer to the sea floor at all depths. So a benthic organism is one that lives on the sea floor.