paradox

Authors: Michal Mergl

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Abstract: Small fragments of phosphatic cuticle have been observed in dark limestone of the early Eifelian age (Choteč Formation) in the interval of the Basal Choteč Event. The cuticle is two-layered, primarily folded, with a chamber between outer and inner walls. Fragments likely represent small cuticle pieces from the margins of the carapace. The exterior of the cuticle is nearly smooth bearing irregular network of wrinkled polygons or shallow pits. Low conical mound-like to high thorn-like spines with annular structure extend from both outer and inner surface of cuticle. Wrinkled and folded bases of these spines indicate moderate flexibility of cuticle. Spines are hollow, the higher ones often with apical opening. The inner surface of carapace carries smaller spines or is nearly smooth. Chamber walls inside the carapace are with folds and other structures supporting stiffness of the cuticle. The internal walls of the cuticle are covered by polygonal bumps. These uniformly sized and shaped bumps are about 1 μm sized and likely represents imprints of the epithelial cells adjoined to the basal membranous layer of endocuticle. Biological affinity of cuticle fragments is unclear. They surely represent pieces of the arthropod carapace, the most probably a thylacocephalan. Associated fossils indicate a deeper marine environment. Bloom of prasinophytes, abundance of dacryoconarids and organophosphatic brachiopods, and striking rarity and diminutive size of other fauna indicate eutrophic conditions in a neritic sea, likely with hypoxic bottom water. Nectonic mode of life in open sea can be suggested for an animal bearing this cuticle.