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Scientists discover a 245,000 million-year-old 'Darth Vader' horseshoe crab fossil
Horseshow Crab Fossil from a Long Time Ago Named After Star Wars Character(CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 369)
Dec 7, 2017 Science & Technology
  • Vaderlimulus trick is an extinct species that lived 245 million years ago
  • Ancient fossil from the Triassic period has been named after Darth Vader
  • The fossil is the first of it's kind in North America from that period
  • Species name honours software tester who found the fossil in Idaho

The fossil of an ancient "Star Wars" Sith Lord from a long time ago, but not quite so far, far away, was recently dug up, a new study reports. Fossilized remains of an extinct species of horseshoe crab, named after Darth Vader because the animal's bizarre shape resembles the "Star Wars" character's well-known helmet, were discovered in Idaho in the US.

Researchers dubbed the newly discovered, 10 centimeter horseshoe crab, Vaderlimulus Trick. A weird resemblance to one of science fiction's most evil villains has earned the fossilised crab the dubious honour of being named after famous Star Wars character Darth Vader.

The specimen marks the first time a horseshoe crab from the Triassic, a period lasting from 251 million to 199 million years ago, has been found in North America, the researcher said. The only other North American horseshoe crab fossils come from the Cretaceous, a period that lasted from 145 million to 66 million years ago.

The 245-million-year-old crab is young as far as horseshoe crabs go; the oldest known fossils are from roughly 470 million years ago. But this "young" creature had "unusual body proportions that give it an odd appearance," study lead author Allan Lerner said in a statement.

V.tricki's bizarre shape indicates that it belongs to the family Austolimulidae, which has since gone extinct, the researcher said. This could explain why the new fossil's shell looks so different from those of surviving horseshoe crabs.

Scientists believe its peculiar appearance was because of the species expanding its range and moving from the ocean to freshwater.

Despite the countless horseshoe crab species that have existed over hundreds of million of years, there are just four species of horseshoe crabs known today, and their populations are dropping, the researchers said. Only three fossils of horseshoe crab, daring from the Mesozoic era, have been found in North America. They added that horseshoe crabs are not true crabs, but rather are more closely related to scorpions and spiders.

V.tricki far from the only species named after a "Star Wars" character. Other include Trigonopterus Chewbacca, a tiny, flightless weevil recently discovered in New Guinea, and Tetramorium Jedi, an ant species that inhabit the lowland rain forests of Madagascar.

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very old



a writer of a book or report



very strange or unusual



an animal, as distinct from a human being



between the Jurassic and Tertiary periods



in spite of



not the same



found, uncovered






to spread out, increase in size



make something clear or add detail



well known



what is left behind of a very old life form



steer (as in boat or ship)



a hard padded had for protection    



been around for the longest time



strange or odd



the people who live in a particular place



the numbers of people living in a place



a part, especially of food




a part or share



not long ago



not long ago



feel sympathy or identify with    



looking for knowledge



person who searches for knowledge



having an uneven or irregular surface; not smooth or level



experts in science, people who study science



the outer part or covering



kinds or sorts of animal



example of its species or type for scientific study or display



strange, not common, different

adj.异常 / 特别


a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the story