The dinosaur age Avitelmessus grapsoideus is one of the best-known
fossil crabs in the world, but rarely if ever found in this condition!
Most specimens are of relatively poor quality, with little detail,
and are best known from the Ripley formation. This particular specimen
is from the same formation as the type specimen described by Rathbun
early in the century, the PeeDee formation of North Carolina. At
a whopping 67 million years old, this specimen was found in a small
quarry alongside numerous other cretaceous fauna including remains
of large reptiles, actual dinosaurs, ammonites, and echinoids. Virtually
the entire coastal ecosystem was represented.
of this quality are extremely rare with only a few existing in private
or public collections. Many partial specimens from the now lost
site (currently a bass stocked lake) were used in several recent
publications describing primary and secondary sexual characteristics
and other features of this species almost never seen preserved even
in much much younger species such as those famous specimens from
Italy (usually composites, incidentally- not so this ancient specimen)
Covered "head to toe" in spikes, spines, and pustules,
this specimen looks as if it could get up and walk off away. It
is completely matrix free, thus revealing the full ventral side.
This it is 3D with life-like preservation. Both arms are fully intact
and the claws are present though missing three of the four pincer
tips. Five residual legs are present. Interestingly, the species
is known to have ten legs, of course, but the rear most legs are
almost never found intact on any specimen from anywhere- it is assumed
they are extremely reduced relative to the remaining legs- a feature
of this crabs family, the dakotacancridae.
like this are likely never to be seen again, and this specimen would
enhance any collection, public or private. This is the larger of
two that I just acquired from a close to final liquidation of the
collectors holdings. These two will be the last of these exquisite
Avitelmessus. The other has not yet been posted. (The $4500.00 huge
Avitelmessus, PFD47, still
up on display on my Crustacean page 1 was recently purchased, and
will be donated to a museum in Australia. In fact, museums around
the globe are clamoring for one of these to add to their collections
(though enough information has been gather from partial specimens
to make this one of the better understood fossil families in history!).
In life, like crabs of now, those spines and bumps served as anchor
points for sponges, algae’s and the like to help in the camouflage
of this unique animal. One can imagine it was probably not very
appetizing to swallow with the longer spines as well (although,
clearly bitten partial specimens were uncovered during the existence
of the quarry).
This crab was preserved in what we have found must have been a
catastrophic burial (localized underwater slide or hurricane event.)
All the fossils found are found in relatively very shallow lenses
in the Peedee of North Carolina, and a very small arial range.
This museum grade fossil comes with my highest recommendation.