University of California Museum of Paleontology UCMP in the field See the world (and its fossils) with UCMP's field notes.
About UCMP People Blog Online Exhibits Public programs Education Collections Research

Online exhibits : Special exhibits : Secrets of the Stomatopod

Secrets of the Stomatopod: An Underwater Research Adventure

A blast from the past!

Fossil stomatopod

A stomatopod fossil preserved in rock Image courtesy of Cees Hof

The stomatopod group, which now consists of over 400 described species, split off from other crustaceans around 400 million years ago. Typical of most crustaceans, they had numerous pairs of specialized legs.

Compare the fossil (left) with the drawing below—what parts of the fossil can you identify?

Early stomatopods most likely lived in the sand and mud at the bottom of the ocean, sorting through the sediment for food. Around 200 million years ago, one pair of legs evolved into raptorial appendages (or “raps”), powerful hunting tools. This had radical consequences for many aspects of stomatopod behavior.

Diagram of stomatopod

A stomatopod fossil preserved in rock. Image courtesy of Cees Hof