Daidal acanthocercus (proto-mantis shrimp)

Daidal acanthocercus is a proto-mantis shrimp from the Carboniferous period (356-299 million years ago).

As an extinct species that we only know from the fossil record, there is much that remains unknown about it. However, as one of the best preserved examples of proto-mantis shrimp, it reveals important steps in the evolution of the highly specialised modern mantis shrimp - ferocious crustacean predators that catch prey with a pair of ballistic claws.

Although Daidal acanthocercus does not have a common name, ‘acanthocercus’ refers to its spiny tail, so we may call it the spiny-tailed proto-mantis shrimp.

Species detail

  • Diagram of the anatomy of Daidal acanthocercus
    Taxonomy

    Find out about the taxonomy of Daidal acanthocercus (Jenner, Hof, and Schram 1998).

  • Daidal acanthocercus fossil
    Distribution and ecology

    Daidal acanthocercus was a benthic crustacean that lived in a shallow tropical water marine environment. Learn where fossils have been found, as well as what can be deduced about the species' likely diet.

  • Daidal acanthocercus fossil
    Behaviour

    Although strictly speaking there is nothing known about the behaviour of Daidal acanthocercus, its anatomy provides clues. Discover what we can infer.

  • Beardops beargulchensis fossil
    References

    Get information about referenced publications.

Images

Daidal acanthocercus fossil

A Daidal acanthocercus fossil © Paleontology Center of the University of Montana, USA

Diagram of the anatomy of Daidal acanthocercus

Diagram of the anatomy of Daidal acanthocercus, the spiny-tailed proto-mantis shrimp. 1 = lateral view of the entire animal, 2 = dorsal view of the animal's tailfan. © Contributions to Zoology

Diagram of the anatomy of the proto-mantis shrimp Bairdops beargulchensis

Diagram of the anatomy of the proto-mantis shrimp Bairdops beargulchensis. Reconstruction of (1) the enitre animal, (2) its tailfan. © Contributions to Zoology

Example of a modern mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyallarus

Example of a modern mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyallarus. It is well known for using heavily calcified clubs as weapons.

Daidal acanthocercus fossil

A Daidal acanthocercus fossil. This is the holotype of the species. © Contributions to Zoology

Beardops beargulchensis fossil

A fossil of Beardops beargulchensis, a close relative of Daidal acanthocercus. The animal’s front end is to the right, showing the scaphocerite or antennal scale (SC), and details of the tailfan can be seen on the left, including the telson (T) and the outer (Ex) and inner (En) rami of the uropods. © Contributions to Zoology

About the author

R Jenner
Dr Ronald Jenner

Head of Invertebrates Division focusing on comparative venomics of invertebrates, higher-level animal phylogeny and body plan evolution, and conceptual and methodological problems in systematics.

Share this
Cartoon image of a stegasaurus disappearing through closing door

With our shark experts, Speedo developed a super-fast swimsuit – its special fabric mimics the microscopic features of sharks’ skin.