A fossil crustacean, discovered by a University of Leicester-led team of paleontologists, has been named Cascolus ravitis in honor of the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, in celebration of his 90th birthday.
Cascolus ravitis, a member of the stem-group of Leptostraca, is a distant relative of the living lobsters, shrimps and crabs.
This ancient crustacean lived during the Silurian period, approximately 430 million years ago.
University of Leicester Professor David Siveter, one of the paleontologists who made the discovery, said: “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.”
Its scientific name honors Sir David Attenborough, who grew up on University College Leicester campus.
“Latin castrum ‘stronghold’ and colus ‘dwelling in’; alluding to the Middle/Old English source for the surname ‘Attenborough, derived from atten ‘at the’ and burgh ‘a fortified place.’ Latin Ratae, the Roman name for Leicester, vita ‘life’ and commeatis ‘a messenger’,” the researchers explained.
“In my youth, David Attenborough’s early programs on the BBC, such as ‘Zoo Quest,’ greatly encouraged my interest in Natural History and it is a pleasure to honor him in this way,” Prof. Siveter said.
“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,” Sir David Attenborough said.
“I was once a scientist so I’m very honored and flattered that the Professor should say such nice things about me now.”
The find comes from volcanic ash deposits that accumulated in a marine setting in what is now Herefordshire in the Welsh Borderland, UK.
“The Herefordshire Konservat-Lagerstätte in the Welsh Borderland is globally important as a source…