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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
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  • 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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help


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an-cient

very old


adj.古老

au-thor

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very strange or unusual


adj.异乎寻常

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an animal, as distinct from a human being


n.生物

cre-ta-ceous

between the Jurassic and Tertiary periods


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de-spite

in spite of


preposition.尽管

dif-fer-rent

not the same


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found, uncovered


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ex-is-ted

lived


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to spread out, increase in size


v.扩大

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make something clear or add detail


v.说明

fa-mous  

well known


adj.著名

fos-sil

what is left behind of a very old life form


n.化石

helm

steer (as in boat or ship)


v.掌舵

hel-met

a hard padded had for protection    


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been around for the longest time


adj.最老的

pe-cu-li-ar

strange or odd


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a part, especially of food

 


n.一部分

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not long ago


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the outer part or covering


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spe-cies

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spec-i-men

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vil-lain

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n.恶棍