Neoglyphea inopinata

Arthropod - Crustacean

Living fossil glypheid
Data Deficient (IUCN)

The Living Fossil Glypheid is a walking animal that moves quickly and climbs by holding firmly on bushy organisms. When alive, this animal has luminous translucid orange coloration and an intense metallic-green reflection in its eyestalk that disappears rapidly after death. It measures between 115 to 123 millimeters.

This glypheid crustacean belongs to a group of animals which appeared during the Jurassic period, and had seemingly disappeared at the start of Eocene period. Contrary to the general hearsay, the said group of animals had not been extinct for the last sixty million years but is still represented in present-day fauna.

The Neoglyphea inopinata is the only living crustacean fossil in the Philippines. It can only be found along ‘deep channel’ about 180 to 200 meters deep off Lubang Island, Occidental Mindoro. The biology and habits of this rare animal are not yet known because of its very deep location. It is possible that there are still more of this species in its very restricted range of habitat thus further study is still needed.

This Jurassic species was trawled off Lubang Island. The collection of this particular glypheid specimen was prompted by the discovery of the very first specimen by the American steamship Albatross (the first vessel specially built for oceanographic purposes) off Lubang Island on July 17, 1908. The first glypheid specimen was set aside unidentified until 67 years later when the unclassifiable form was presented to Michèle de Saint Laurent who was then studying Thalassinids at the National Museum of Natural History and to Jacques Forest of Musèum National d‘Histoire Naturelle. On June 9, 1975, 67 years after this specimen was collected by the Albatross, Profesor P. P. Grasse presented to the Academie des Sciences their preliminary description of the existing glypheid, to which they have attributed the name Neoglyphea inopinata.

An expedition (the MUSORSTOM) was set in the Philippines in search for the new “living fossil” on board the Vauban, an oceanographic vessel, and set sail to Manila in March 1976. The MUSORSTOM trawled at the exact location point where the first glypheid was collected. Using a beam trawl, 9 samples of Neoglyphea inopinata (7 males and 2 juvenile), were collected and all were fixed for histological study.

This page was last modified Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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