Abstract. Pseudoscorpions are amongst the oldest terrestrial lineages but there is a major gap in the fossil record between the oldest fossils from the Devonian (ca. 385 million years ago) and rich fossil communities in amber that mostly originate from the Eocene of Europe. Burmese/Myanmar amber (or Burmite) from the middle Cretaceous preserves a diverse community of pseudoscorpions but these remain poorly documented, despite their exceptional preservation and potential to offer unique insights into evolutionary history. Here we describe a new genus and species of pseudoscorpion with a unique morphology of the chelicerae, Prionochthonius burmiticus gen. et sp. nov., from Burmese amber. Although some key characters remain obscure, the fossil can be confidently attributed to the basal pseudoscorpion family Chthoniidae, but it cannot be assigned to any extant or other fossil genus. Based on trichobothria patterns, it is most similar to extant genera that are found only in the Southern Hemisphere; findings that are in line with previous studies suggesting Gondwanan origins for at least some of the Burmese amber invertebrates. The fossil provides further evidence for a diverse community of litter-and soil-dwelling pseudoscorpions in the Late Cretaceous that comprises many extinct genera but represents many of the modern families. It also suggests that the diversification of chthoniid pseudoscorpions occurred well before the middle Cretaceous, and that the principle gestalt of its members has changed relatively little over time.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Arachnology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2020|