Scientists have revealed the fossil of an ancient relative of crabs, and they decided to name it after David Attenborough, honoring the television personality and British naturalist. The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This new species is thought to shed light on the evolution of crustacean. Derek Briggs, the co-author of the study and a paleontologist at Yale University, stated that their finding represents an early member of the line which today developed into modern crabs, shrimps, and lobsters.
- Specialists uncovered the fossil of an ancient relative of crabs, lobsters and shrimps.
- The creature was named Cascolus ravitis, honoring David Attenborough.
- He was a British naturalist and a television personality.
Cascolus ravitis is inspired by the name of David Attenborough, where the Latin castrum means ‘stronghold’ and colus means ‘dwelling in,’ honoring the surname of the well-known naturalist which has Old and Middle English roots. The name of the species, namely ravitis is in honor of the University of Leicester campus. There, Attenborough grew up. Ravitis represents a mixture between the Latin commeatis (‘messenger’), vita (‘life’) and Ratae (the Romans’ name for Leicester).
David Attenborough is known to have broadcasted about the wonders of nature, thus, the name ‘messenger of life.’ Briggs claimed that naming an ancient relative of crabs after David Attenborough would be a way of praising his incredible career, developing and presenting natural history programs. C. ravitis was unearthed in the deposits of volcanic ash which had transformed into rock in present day Herefordshire.
Because researchers revealed the specimen to have been preserved in high quality, indicating evidence of soft tissue, like antennae and eyes, and limbs, they were able to develop a virtual fossil of the animal. This virtual analysis offered them the possibility to examine the creature in 3D. Briggs argued that the advancement of technology helped them develop detailed imaging, slicing through the specimen and separately analyzing those thin increments.
Then, they put together all the images to build a 3D reconstruction. Even if this creature does no longer exist, it is known to have been lived in the past through those images which attest its existence. Researchers explained that there is no density contrast between the nodule in which it was unearthed, and the fossil and they cannot use standard scanning methods to trace it.
The specimen is 8.9 millimeters long, having a segmented body with several two-branched limbs which represent a characteristic of crustaceans living today. The creature offers significant clues about the evolution of Malacostraca and Eumalacostra, major crustacean groups.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia