Mar 28, 2017 12:26 AM EDT
A newly discovered fossilized ancient relative of crabs, shrimps, and lobsters was named in honor of Sir David Attenborough. Paleontologists carbon dated the fossil and it is approximately 430 million years old which is also exceptionally preserved including its complete soft-parts.
The fossil was determined to be as a crustacean new to science. It was found in the volcanic ash deposits accumulated in the marine setting in Herefordshire in the Welsh Borderland.
"Such a well-preserved fossil is exciting, and this particular one is a unique example of its kind in the fossil record and so, we can establish it as a new species of a new genus," Professor David Siveter of the Department of Geology at the University of Leicester. Professor Siveter also made the discovery together with the researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Imperial College in London and Yale University.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 9-millimeter fossilized crustacean is named Cascolus ravitis honor of Sir David Attenborough who grew up in the University College Leicester campus. Cascolus is a blend from the Latin word castrum which means stronghold and colus mean dwelling in. This combination is inspired by the naturalist's surname Attenborough which has a middle and old English origin.
The species name ravitis, on the other hand, is partly in honor of the University of Leicester campus, which was then called University College Leicester, where David Attenborough grew up and his father served as a principal. Ravitis came from the Latin word Ratae which in Roman's name for Leicester, vita for life and commeatis for a messenger.
"The biggest compliment that a biologist or paleontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honor and I take as a very great compliment," David Attenborough said in his statement in Science Daily. He also added that he is very honored and flattered that the professor should say such nice things about him now.
David Attenborough's fossil gives an extremely high-quality specimen. With evidence of multiple limbs and even soft tissue such as eyes and antennae, are well preserved that the research could construct it virtually that allow them to examine it in three dimensions.
"We ground the fossil away in a very thin increment with some 50 for every millimeter, imaging the details at every stage and combining the images into 3-dimensional reconstruction," co-author of the study and a paleontologist at Yale University Derek Briggs said. Briggs also added that even if the fossilized specimen no longer exist, the images and the reconstruction provides scientist value data of the creature.
The proto-shrimp fossil specimen named after David Attenborough measures just 8.9 millimeters long from head to tail and 1.3 millimeters wide. It has a long segmented body with several two-branched limbs which typically found in crustaceans today. With its petal-shaped appendages, scientists think that these bodily extensions are used for swimming and breathing in 100 to 200 meters deep beneath the ancient sea.
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