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Cambrian fossil shows parent caring for young

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From Jasmin Fox Skelly at New Scientist:

A 520-million-year-old fossil shows an ancient shrimp-like creature caring for its four offspring. It is the oldest ever example of a parent actively looking after its young after they hatch. More. (paywall)

The arthropod may be the ancestor of insects and spiders (or maybe not). We have one “snapshot” and that’s from billions of lives.

What it mainly shows is that, contrary to what we might expect, there seems to have been little evolution of animal psychology since then.

See also: The cancer theory of the Cambrian explosion of life 541 million years ago

9 Replies to “Cambrian fossil shows parent caring for young

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    Here’s a brief look—first two pages—of the paper w being discussed.

    Here’s a look at the fossils in question: here.

  2. 2
    PaV says:

    So, now, even “parenting” appears out of nowhere. We await the “just-so” follow-up.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    Was it really parenting or were the little ones just following the big one to get scraps- and how can one tell?

  4. 4
    DATCG says:

    awwww, now we know why we care for our children. Caring feelings and emotions, responsibility, and love evolved from a cute little bugsy wugsy

    blind, unguided evolution is grand, thank the random mutations we know how to care for our young.

  5. 5
    DATCG says:

    Question, how do they know the “parent” was not running away as fast as possible from the younguns?

  6. 6
    PaV says:


    I suspect that actual present-day observation of shrimps led them to their conclusion.

  7. 7
    ET says:


    It makes sense in an intelligently designed world. I was just surprised/ amazed that they think they could tell from fossils seeing as any number of events could have led to the placement.

  8. 8
    Origenes says:

    One clump of matter is parenting four other clumps of matter, because the surrounding matter made it so. How cute.

  9. 9
    News says:

    You guys might be right. It could be a mistaken assumption. But if they are prepared to entertain the idea that it isn’t…

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