A team researchers from the universities of Yale and Kansas, Oxford and the Japan Agency of Marine Science and Technology have discovered a uncovered a previously unknown species of a fossil ostracod (tiny crustaceans related to shrimps, lobsters and crabs that live in lakes, ponds, rivers and oceans) dating back some 450 millions years ago preserved in pyrite from New York State. The fossils, only 2-3 millimeters long are reported to be “exceptionally well-preserved, complete with the shell and also the soft parts of the animal within the shell.”
Described as a “sea nursery” the fossils indicated that the female specimen had been sitting incubating her eggs when she became “frozen” in time. Some of the eggs found had already hatched as well.
Dubbed Luprisca incuba after Lucina, the goddess of childbirth, and incuba, the fossils are considered to be the oldest evidence of a reproductive and child-care strategy of any species.”
"This a very rare and exciting find from the fossil record,” said David Siveter, a professor of paleontology at the University of Leicester in Britain. “Only a handful of examples are known where eggs are fossilized and associated with the parent. This discovery tells us that these ancient tiny marine crustaceans took particular care of their brood in exactly the same way as their living relatives."