Evolution

Ongoing phylogenetic investigations and the description of new material means that our understanding of the evolution of proto-mantis shrimp is in flux. Several fossil localities from the Carboniferous in Europe and North America have yielded particularly important material that has shaped our understanding of the diversity of the group.

Modern mantis shrimp and their fossil relatives are placed in a taxon named Unipeltata.

Fossil proto-mantis shrimp are currently separated into 2 groups: 

  1. Palaeostomatopoda
  2. Archaeostomatopodea

The genus Daidal belongs to the latter. 

Recent phylogenetic research suggests that both groups of proto-mantis shrimp are paraphyletic. Consequently, the order in which fossil species split off from the lineage leading to modern mantis shrimp allows us to infer important steps in the evolution of the unique body plan of mantis shrimp. 

One of the most interesting topics the fossils shed light on is the evolution of the pair of specialised ballistic claws that modern mantis shrimp use to catch their prey. It turns out that this specialisation had already developed in some archaeostomatopods of the Carboniferous.

Glossary

Paraphyletic
A group of organisms is said to be paraphyletic if it contains a single common ancestor but excludes some of the descendants of this ancestor.