Scientists from Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Yale, and Leicester University have found a 430 million years old fossil and named it “Cascolus ravitis,” to honor of the broadcaster and naturalist, David Attenborough. The fossil is an ancestor of shrimps, crabs, and lobsters.
According to the International Business Times, the name Cascolus is derived from “castrum,” which means “stronghold,” and “colus” that means “dwelling in,” alluding to the Old English source for the surname Attenborough. And “ravitis” is a combination of three words: “ratae,” the Roman name for Leicester, “vita,” which means life, and “commeatis,” a messenger.
Cascolus ravitis is only 9 millimeters long
According to the University of Leicester, the Cascolus ravitis was discovered in Herefordshire, on the border between England and Wales. It has ten legs and is 9 millimeters long. They also said that it is well preserved in its three dimensions.
The animal has some claw-like structures that suggest it could be a predator, according to researchers. It has delicate structures such as the flagella, wich the animal may have used as spatial sensing tools.
“Even though it is relatively small, at just nine millimeters long, it preserves incredible detail including body parts that are normally not fossilized. It provides scientists with important, novel insights into the evolution of the body plan, the limbs and possible respiratory-circulatory physiology of a primitive member of one of the major groups of Crustacea,” said Professor David Sivester of the Department of Geology at the University of Leicester.
He also said that the animal lived in the Silurian period of geological time when southern Britain was in warm southerly subtropical latitudes, close to the current North America. He said that all animals living there were preserved when a volcanic ash rained down upon them.
According to The Guardian, Attenborough has enough living species named in his honor to fill a small wildlife park. Only this month, two new species were named after him: the Pristimantis attenboroughi, an Andean rubber frog, and the Attenborougharion rubicundus, a semi-slug found in Tasmania. He also has a goblin spider, a Filipino pitcher plant, an Ecuadorian tree, and a Gabon Flower, among other species.
The new Cascolus ravitis joins the group of extinct creatures with the name of David Attenborough, where also figures the Microleo attenboroughi, the Materpiscis attenboroughi from the Gogo formation in Australia, the Electrotettix attenboroughi, and the Attenbotosaurus conybeare, an aquatic beastie from the Jurassic era.
“The biggest compliment that a biologist or paleontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honor and I take this as a very great compliment. I was once a scientist so I’m very honored and flattered that the Professor should say such nice things about me now,” said Attenborough, according to the University of Leicester statement.
Source: University of Leicester