Fossil isopods associated with a fish skeleton from the Lower Cretaceous of Queensland, Australia – direct evidence of a scavenging lifestyle in Mesozoic Cymothoida



Abstract:  A dense assemblage of fossil isopod crustaceans (Brunnaega tomhurleyi Wilson, sp. nov.) from the Lower Cretaceous (Albian) Toolebuc Formation of Queensland, Australia, has been found within the carcass of a large actinopterygian fish, Pachyrhizodus marathonensis (Etheridge). Preservation of fine anatomical details supports referral to the genus Brunnaega Polz, which is herein reassigned to the family Cirolanidae. Furthermore, placement of this taxon within the cirolanid subfamily Conilerinae Kensley and Schotte is significant because the group includes modern species that are well known as voracious scavengers. This isopod–fish association represents the oldest unequivocal evidence of scavenging by Mesozoic cymothoidean isopods on a large vertebrate carcass.