Abstract

A new spinicaudatan species, Estherites? jocelynae new species, is described from more than fiftyspecimens collected from the Medicine Lodge Formation (early Oligocene) of the Beaverhead Basin in southwestern Montana, USA. This is the first spinicaudatan species reported from Cenozoic strata of North America and is the second-youngest fossil clam shrimp described globally. The new species extends the range of the superfamily Estheriteoidea into the Paleogene. Carapaces of E.? jocelynae n. sp. are preserved as a calcium carbonate replacement of the original chitin-calcium-phosphate structure, which is an uncommon style of preservation for spinicaudatans. The unique preservation coupled with the range extension suggests that the sparse Cenozoic fossil record of spinicaudatans may be partly attributable to preservation bias related to geochemical conditions rather than exclusively to diversity decline following the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. The presence of E.? jocelynae n. sp. in the Medicine Lodge Formation indicates that lakes in the Beaverhead Basin experienced seasonality and fluctuating lake levels with at least some drying at the lake margins. The ecological inferences support previous paleoenvironmental interpretations based on paleobotanical and other faunal evidence.

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