Fossil Mazon Creek Millipede

Euphoberia tracta

Order Archipolypoda; Family Euphoberiidae (Extinct)

Geological Time: Carboniferous, Westphalian Stage

Size: Millipede fossil is 40 mm long

Fossil Site: Mazon Creek, Francis Creek Shale, Braidwood, Illinois

Euphoberia tractaDescription: The Mazon Creek deposits of the region near Braidwood, Illinois rival the other famous Lagerstatten of the Burgess Shale, Solnhofen, and Chengjiang for the variety of detailed life preserved. Many exquisitely-preserved specimens are found in the ironstone nodules that make up the deposits. The majority of collecting areas are the spoil heaps of abandoned coal mines, the most famous of which is Peabody Coal Pit 11. Pit 11 now serves as a cooling pond for the Braidwood nuclear power plant, but with over 100 other localities, specimens still come to light. This fine example is one of the spiny millipedes known as Euphoberia tracta. The fossil history of millipedes dates back to the Silurian, with some fossil burrows which may be attributed to millipedes having been found in the Devonian. Since millipedes live in habitats such as moist forest floors, fossilization is a very chancy occurrence. It is thought that they made the transition to fully terrestrial forms early in their evolutionary history. These are thought to have led a cursorial existence in more open habitats where their spines would have aided in warding off would-be predators.

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