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eLife Sciences Publications


External and internal morphological characters of extant and fossil organisms are crucial to establishing their systematic position, ecological role and evolutionary trends. The lack of internal characters and soft-tissue preservation in many arthropod fossils, however, impedes comprehensive phylogenetic analyses and species descriptions according to taxonomic standards for Recent organisms. We found well-preserved three-dimensional anatomy in mineralized arthropods from Paleogene fissure fillings and demonstrate the value of these fossils by utilizing digitally reconstructed anatomical structure of a hister beetle. The new anatomical data facilitate a refinement of the species diagnosis and allowed us to reject a previous hypothesis of close phylogenetic relationship to an extant congeneric species. Our findings suggest that mineralized fossils, even those of macroscopically poor preservation, constitute a rich but yet largely unexploited source of anatomical data for fossil arthropods.


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