Parasites are ubiquitous in extant ecosystems but rarely preserved in the geological record, especially parasitic worms (helminths). One such group is Cestoda (tapeworms), a specialized endoparasitic group of platyhelminths (flatworms). They have a complex lifecycle with at least two hosts, infecting all major groups of vertebrates. However, their fossil record is extremely sparse due to their soft tissue and concealed habitats, with the only widely accepted example before the Quaternary being eggs discovered in a shark coprolite from the Permian. The lack of body fossils greatly hampers our understanding of their early evolution. We report a slender, armed fossil from mid-Cretaceous Kachin (Myanmar) amber (ca. 99 Ma). This fossil displays unique external (armature pattern) and internal (partially invaginated tentacle and rootless hooks) features that are most consistent with the tentacles of extant trypanorhynch tapeworms that parasitize marine elasmobranchs (mainly sharks and rays). Our study thus probably provides not only the first partial body fossil of a tapeworm, but also arguably the most convincing body fossil of a flatworm. In addition, the exquisite invaginated tentacle inside the fossil highlights that amber can preserve the internal structure of helminths. Remarkably, nearly all extant trypanorhynchs are endoparasites of marine elasmobranchs, thus our study provides an exceptional example of a marine endoparasite trapped in terrestrial amber.

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