Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rock, paper, scissors

ROCK: Paleontologists have been discovering and describing many middle Cambrian creatures from the Stanley Glacier exposure of the Stephen Formation ever since 1996, when a German hiker discovered fossils on the trail in Canada's Kootenay National Park.

PAPER: Scientist David Legg of Imperial College London details one of the 505-million-year-old fossils in this month's issue of The Journal of Paleontology. The 1.5" (4 cm) creature is a distant ancestor of lobsters, crabs, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and scorpions. It used its many legs to scuttle along the seafloor and its compound eyes, located on stalks on top of its head, to search for prey hiding in the sediment.

SCISSORS: But its most distinguishing feature, the enlarged pincer-like frontal claws that it used for the capture, is what inspired Dr. Legg to name the fossil Kootenichela deppi after American actor Johnny Depp. “When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands....In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honour the man than to immortalize him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?

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