May 16, 2013
Johnny Depp Immortalized: Scientist Names Ancient Lobster Fossil After Actor
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Johnny Depp, actor in the upcoming Lone Ranger film, is being immortalized by one scientist who is a big fan of the Hollywood movie star.
David Legg, who carried out his research as part of his PhD in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, named a fossil he discovered in honor of Mr. Depp. The 505-million-year-old fossil called Kooteninchela deppi belonged to a distant ancestor of lobsters and scorpions.
K. deppi is helping researchers find out more about life on Earth during the Cambrian period, which is when the majority of modern animal types emerged.
"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," Legg said. "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?"
The ancient lobster-like creature lived in very shallow seas off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. Sea temperatures in this area would have been much hotter than today, and although coral reefs had not yet been established, Kooteninchela deppi would have lived in a similar environment made up predominantly of sponges.
Legg believes the ancient creature would have been a hunter or scavenger. Its claws may have been used to capture prey, or they could have helped it probe the sea floor looking for sea creatures hiding in sediment.
K. deppi was about 1.5-inches long with an elongated trunk for a body and millipede-like legs. It had large eyes composed of many lenses like the compound eyes of a fly. These eyes were positioned on top of movable stalks called peduncles to help it search for food and keep a look out for predators.
"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," Legg said.
"Current estimates indicate that there are more than one million known insects and potentially 10 million more yet to be categorized, which potentially means that Kooteninchela Deppi has a huge family tree."
Legg hopes to further his research and study fossilized creatures from the geological period called the Ordovician. During this time, Earth saw the largest increase in diversity of species on the planet.
The scientist shouldn't be ashamed of where he found inspiration for the ancient lobster ancestor's name, because he isn't the only big fan of Depp. The Pirate of the Caribbean star was voted America's favorite actor in both 2011 and 2012.