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.
Find out about the taxonomy of Daidal acanthocercus (Jenner, Hof, and Schram 1998).
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.
Although strictly speaking there is nothing known about the behaviour of Daidal acanthocercus, its anatomy provides clues. Discover what we can infer.
Get information about referenced publications.
A Daidal acanthocercus fossil © Paleontology Center of the University of Montana, USA
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. Reconstruction of (1) the enitre animal, (2) its tailfan. © Contributions to Zoology
Example of a modern mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyallarus. It is well known for using heavily calcified clubs as weapons.
A Daidal acanthocercus fossil. This is the holotype of the species. © Contributions to Zoology
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
Researcher in the Crustacea Group, focusing on comparative venomics of invertebrates, higher-level animal phylogeny and body plan evolution, and conceptual and methodological problems in systematics.
The Museum's smallest members of staff are our flesh-eating beetles, Dermestes maculates, who strip carcasses to the bone.