A fossil of a 560 million year old creature is named after a famous British naturalist and broadcaster.
Researchers say: auroralumina attenboroughii may have been the first animal predatoror hunter.
The creature is named after 96-year-old David Attenborough who has also written many books on the natural world. He said he was “very happy” with the honour.
The first part of the name, auroraluminameans dawn lantern in the Latin language.
Phil Wilby studies ancient life at the British Geological Survey. He told the Associated Press that it is believed that “…modern animal groups such as jellyfish appeared 540 million years ago in the Cambrian explosion.”
“But this predator,” he said, “that’s 20 million years older than that.”
Scientists call the period between about 541 million and 530 million years ago the Cambrian explosion. At that time, many kinds of animals and plants developed. Also during that period, creatures with hard body parts such as shells made of calcium carbonate appeared.
Wilby said it was “hugely exciting” to know that the fossil was one of possibly many that could help us understand “when complex life on Earth began.”
A paleontologist studies ancient life primarily through its mineralized remains, which are known as fossils.
The fossil of the newly named creature was found in Charnwood Forest near Leicester in central England. Attenborough used to hunt for fossils in that area.
Scientists say: auroralumina attenboroughii is perhaps the earliest creature known to have a form of skeleton. They said it is related to the animal group which includes corals, jellyfish and anemones.
Frankie Dunn is a researcher at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. She said the fossil is very different from other fossils found in Charnwood Forest and around the world.
Dunn said that, unlike most other Cambrian fossils, “this specimen is clearly skeletal, with closely packed tentacles that would have swung around in the water to catch passing food, just like corals and sea anemones do today.”
I am Anna Matteo.
The Associated Press reported on this from London. Anna Matteo adapted this story for VOA Learning English.
Words in this story
fossil -n. the remains of ancient life forms that have been mineralized and turned to stone
predator -n. an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals
lantern -n. a light that is usually covered by glass and can be carried around
skeleton -n. the structure of bones (or similar substance) that support an animal’s body
tentacle -n. a long, movable arm of soft-bodied animals like the octopus
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