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Hydrodynamic performance of Ordovician archaeostracan carapaces.

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Xue, Yuan 


The diversification of macroscopic pelagic arthropods such as caryocaridid archaeostracans was a crucial aspect of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, and the plankton revolution. A pelagic mode of life has been inferred for caryocaridids from their common presence in black graptolitic shales alongside carapace morphologies that appear streamlined. However, the hydrodynamic performance within the group and comparisons with other archaeostracans were lacking. Here we use a computational fluid dynamics approach to quantify the hydrodynamic performance of caryocaridids, and other early Palaeozoic archaeostracans including Arenosicaris inflata and Ordovician ceratiocaridids. We show that streamlining of the carapace was an important factor facilitating a pelagic mode of life in caryocaridids, in reducing the drag coefficient and facilitating a broader range of lift coefficients at different angles of attack. However, comparable hydrodynamic performance is also recovered for some ceratiocaridids. This suggests that alongside carapace streamlining, adaptations to appendages and thinning of the carapace were also important for a pelagic mode of life in Ordovician caryocaridids.


Acknowledgements: We thank the three anonymous reviewers and editor for their comments and feedback on the manuscript, and for carefully checking the code, data and supporting information.

Funder: Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship


Hydrodynamics, Animals, Arthropods, Fossils, Animal Shells

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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/X017745/1)