mick jagger
September 13, 2014

New Fossil Species Named After Mick Jagger’s Lips

Eric Hopton for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Aging UK rock group The Rolling Stones and their lead singer Mick Jagger seem to have been around forever and the excesses of a lifetime of stardom are etched on their faces. Now those famous features have been immortalized with a permanent link to a time that existed even before they began their onslaught on the Pop charts. The 19 million year old fossilized remains of a previously unknown creature have been named after Jagger because of a perceived resemblance to his large, pouty lips.

The scientific name of the new animal species will be Jaggermeryx naida which means “Jagger’s water nymph”. The band have earned countless awards and tributes along the way including a Knighthood for Sir Michael Jagger, but this must count as one of the most bizarre. This unusual choice of name for a prehistoric creature was reported in the September edition of the Journal of Paleontology.

The remains are from part of a rich seam of prehistoric discovery at the site of Wadi Moghra in the Qattara Depression in Egypt where many fossils from the Miocene period have been unearthed. The unique nature of the sedimentary deposits in the area has provided researchers with a fascinating picture of Miocene fauna. Though Wadi Moghra is a wasteland of desert and rock today, during the Miocene it was an area of rich tropical swamp and river delta.

Jaggermeryx naida is just one six species of Anthracotheriidae that have been found at this site. These extinct animals were ungulates related to both the hippopotamus family and possibly whales. The first genus Elomeryx lived in Asia during the middle Eocene period and evidence of several later species has been found in Africa, Eurasia, and North America. The family name derived from the discovery of the first genus, Anthrocotherium, which means “coal beast,” in a French coalfield. Anthracotheres probably looked like something between a pig and a skinny version of the hippo with a small narrow head, broad feet for walking in mud or swamps, and four or five toes on each foot.

According to a statement from the researchers, The Jaggermeryx fossils, which now reside in collections at Duke, the Cairo Geological Museum and Cairo University, were found alongside fossilized catfish, turtles, waterbirds and crocodile poop.

The species was thought to be about the size of a small deer. What set Jaggermeryx apart from the other Anthracotheres found at Wadi Moghra was a series of small openings on each side of the animal’s jaw which were thought to carry nerves to the chin and lips.

Duke paleontologist Gregg Gunnell, co-author of the Journal of Paleontology report said, “The animal probably had a highly innervated muzzle with mobile and tactile lips, thus the Jagger reference.”

Ellen Miller, another of the authors and also from Duke, said, “It may have used its sensitive snout to forage along river banks, scooping up plants with its lower teeth and large lips”.

It seems that Gunnell, who describes himself as a huge Rolling Stones fan, had a battle to name the fossil after Sir Mick. Other members of the team wanted to name the creature after Angelina Jolie because of her equally famous lips but in the end Gunnell won the day and added yet another distinction to the Rolling Stones’ collection of accolades.