Harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones) from the Middle Jurassic of China
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Harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones) are familiar animals in most terrestrial habitats but are rare as fossils, with only a handful of species known from each of the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. Fossil harvestmen from Middle Jurassic (ca. 165 Ma) strata of Daohugou, Inner Mongolia, China, are described as Mesobunus martensi gen. et sp. nov. and Daohugopilio sheari gen. et sp. nov.; the two genera differ primarily in the relative length of their legs and details of the pedipalps. Jurassic arachnids are extremely rare and these fossils represent the first Jurassic, and only the fourth Mesozoic, record of Opiliones. These remarkably well-preserved and modern-looking fossils are assigned to the Eupnoi, whereby M. martensi demonstrably belongs in Sclerosomatidae. It thus represents the oldest record of a modern harvestman family and implies a high degree of evolutionary stasis among one of the most widespread and abundant groups of long-legged, round-bodied harvestmen.