Fredonia student, faculty identify a new species of female-only fossil fairy shrimp

Roger Coda
student and faculty member in lab

Emma Van Houte with Dr. Thomas Hegna in a Houghton Hall Earth History classroom/lab.

Emma Van Houte, a senior from Liverpool majoring in Environmental Sciences, and her faculty advisor, Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Thomas Hegna, are co-authors of a journal article, “A new genus and species of ?parthenogenic anostracan (Pancrustacea, Branchiopoda, ?Thamnocephalidae) from the Lower Cretaceous Koonwarra Fossil Bed in Australia.”

The article, published in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology, identified a new species of fossil fairy shrimp, named Koonwarrella peterorum (related to modern sea monkeys) from the Cretaceous of Australia (about 115 million years old). Dr. Aodhán D. Butler, also a co-author, is affiliated with Uppsala University.

The population of fossils is unique because they are all easily identifiable as females, suggesting a mode of reproduction called parthenogenesis – a form of self-cloning which does not require males.

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