An earliest Triassic age for Tasmaniolimulus and comments on synchrotron tomography of Gondwanan horseshoe crabs

Russell D. C. Bicknell*, Patrick M. Smith, Tom Brougham, Joseph J. Bevitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Constraining the timing of morphological innovations within xiphosurid evolution is central for understanding when and how such a long-lived group exploited vacant ecological niches over the majority of the Phanerozoic. To expand the knowledge on the evolution of select xiphosurid forms, we reconsider the four Australian taxa: Austrolimulus fletcheri, Dubbolimulus peetae, Tasmaniolimulus patersoni, and Victalimulus mcqueeni. In revisiting these taxa, we determine that, contrary to previous suggestion, T. patersoni arose after the Permian and the origin of over-developed genal spine structures within Austrolimulidae is exclusive to the Triassic. To increase the availability of morphological data pertaining to these unique forms, we also examined the holotypes of the four xiphosurids using synchrotron radiation X-ray tomography (SRXT). Such non-destructive, in situ imaging of palaeontological specimens can aid in the identification of novel morphological data by obviating the need for potentially extensive preparation of fossils from the surrounding rock matrix. This is particularly important for rare and/or delicate holotypes. Here, SRXT was used to emphasize A. fletcheri and T. patersoni cardiac lobe morphologies and illustrate aspects of the V. mcqueeni thoracetronic doublure, appendage impressions, and moveable spine notches. Unfortunately, the strongly compacted D. peetae precluded the identification of any internal structures, but appendage impressions were observed. The application of computational fluid dynamics to high-resolution 3D reconstructions are proposed to understand the hydrodynamic properties of divergent genal spine morphologies of austrolimulid xiphosurids.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13326
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Australia
  • austrolimulidae
  • euchelicerate
  • synchrotron radiation X-ray tomography
  • xiphosurida


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