I have to hand it once again to the intrepid geeks and nerdlings over at ScienceDaily.com!
Actor Johnny Depp Immortalized in Name of Fossilized Creature With ‘Scissor Hand’ Claws
The article begins, “A scientist has discovered an ancient extinct creature with ‘scissor hand-like’ claws in fossil records and has named it in honour of his favourite movie star.”
The 505-million-year-old fossil called Kooteninchela deppi (pronounced Koo-ten-ee-che-la depp-eye), which is a distant ancestor of lobsters and scorpions, was named after the actor Johnny Depp for his starring role as Edward Scissorhands — a movie about an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands.
(What a cutie. Just like its namesake!)
Kooteninchela deppi is helping researchers to piece together more information about life on Earth during the Cambrian period when nearly all modern animal types emerged.
David Legg, who carried out the research as part of his PhD in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says:
“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. Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors. In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honour the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”
It lived in shallow seas off the coast of what is now British Columbia, Canada, although in those days, the area was closer to the equator.
It was approximately four centimetres long with a trunk for a body and millipede-like legs and large eyes which it used to search for food along the sea floor, according to research published in the Journal of Palaeontology.
The researcher believes that Kooteninchela deppi would have been a hunter or scavenger. Its large Edward Scissorhands-like claws with their elongated spines may have been used to capture prey, or they could have helped it to probe the sea floor looking for sea creatures hiding in sediment.
(Kooteninchela deppi – a distant relative of lobsters & scorpions)
It also had large eyes composed of many lenses like the compound eyes of a fly. They were positioned on top of movable stalks called peduncles to help it more easily search for food and look out for predators.
The researchers discovered that Kooteninchela deppi belongs to a group known as the ‘great-appendage’ arthropods, which includes spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, insects and crabs.
Mr Legg said: ‘Just imagine it – the prawns covered in mayonnaise in your sandwich, the spider climbing up your wall and even the fly that has been banging into your window and annoyingly flying into your face are all descendants of Kooteninchela deppi.’
‘Current estimates indicate that there are more than one million known insects and potentially 10 million more yet to be categorised, which potentially means that Kooteninchela deppi has a huge family tree.’
Legg now wants to study the fossils from the Ordovician period, when species diversity increased.
The research was published in the Journal of Palaeontology 2 May 2013.
- David Legg. Multi-Segmented Arthropods from the Middle Cambrian of British Columbia (Canada). Journal of Paleontology, 2013; 87 (3): 493 DOI: 10.1666/12-112.1
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