Ancient Horseshoe Crab found named after Darth Vader

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An uncanny resemblance to one of science fiction’s most evil villains has earned a fossilised crab the dubious honour of being named after Darth Vader.

The unusual shape of the now extinct horseshoe crab species bears a striking similarity to the famous helmet of the intimidating Star Wars character.

The 245-million-year-old species, whose remains date from the Triassic period, have been dubbed Vaderlimulus tricki, after the Dark Lord of the Sith. 

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An uncanny resemblance to one of science fiction's most evil villains has earned a fossilised crab the dubious honour of being named after Darth Vader. The 245-million-year-old crab from the Triassic period was found in Idaho and has been labelled Vaderlimulus tricki 

An uncanny resemblance to one of science fiction’s most evil villains has earned a fossilised crab the dubious honour of being named after Darth Vader. The 245-million-year-old crab from the Triassic period was found in Idaho and has been labelled Vaderlimulus tricki 

WHAT IS CITIZEN SCIENCE

The limitations for researchers in gathering data are normally time, man power and money.

Citizen science helps resolve this by utilising keen volunteers to assist in gathering more information.

Often through an online portal and with some basic training provided, citizen science studies allow people to get involved in a field that interests them and genuinely contribute to ongoing studies. 

Other examples of citizen science studies include: looking for new planets, assessing the populations of bird populations and keeping an eye on the fragile bumblebees. 

Researchers from New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and the University of Colorado published their a paper outlining the find.

The species name ‘tricki’ pays tribute to the man who found the fossil in Idaho, Trick Runions.

Trick is part of the citizen science Dinosaur Trackers Research Group at the University of Colorado.  

It is the first fossil of its kind from the Triassic Period to be found in North America.

Experts have called the specimen ‘mostly complete and moderately well preserved.’

When this creature was alive, it would have lived on the supercontinent of Pangea.

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

‘Vaderlimulus has unusual body proportions that give it an odd appearance,’ said lead author Allan J Lerner.

Writing In the study its authors added: ‘The fossil record of horseshoe crabs from the Mesozoic [era] of North America consists of only three specimens from the Cretaceous [period].

‘We add to this depauperate record the first report of a horseshoe crab body fossil from the Triassic [period] of North America.’

Only three fossils of horseshoe crab, daring from the Mesozoic era, have been found in North America.

This specimen is the only one from the Triassic period, which is the first period in the Mesozoic era and spanned from 251 million to 199 million years ago.

Of the three existing fossils, all of them came from the more recent Cretaceous period, which was between 145 million and 66 million years ago.

At the time this fossil was found, mammals and dinosaurs were just beginning their evolutionary journey. 

The unusual shape of the now extinct horseshoe crab species bears a striking similarity to the famous helmet of the intimidating Star Wars character (pictured)

The unusual shape of the now extinct horseshoe crab species bears a striking similarity to the famous helmet of the intimidating Star Wars character (pictured)

The unusual shape of the now extinct horseshoe crab species bears a striking similarity to the famous helmet of the intimidating Star Wars character (pictured)

When this animal was alive, it would have lived on the supercontinent of Pangea. Scientists believe its peculiar appearance (artist's impression) was because of the species expanding its range and moving from the ocean to freshwater

When this animal was alive, it would have lived on the supercontinent of Pangea. Scientists believe its peculiar appearance (artist's impression) was because of the species expanding its range and moving from the ocean to freshwater

When this animal was alive, it would have lived on the supercontinent of Pangea. Scientists believe its peculiar appearance (artist’s impression) was because of the species expanding its range and moving from the ocean to freshwater

Already ancient at that time, horseshoe crabs date back nearly 500 million years and surviving fossils are rare.

Today only four similar species remain and their numbers continue to dwindle.

Relics of a long ago time, the living descendants of the Darth Vader crab are more closely related to scorpions than they are crabs. 

Citizen science involves the use of members of the public to help gather information and cover more ground.

The limitations for researchers are normally time, man power and money but citizen science helps resolve this by utilising keen volunteers to assist in getting more information.

Often through an online portal and with some basic training provided, citizen science studies allow people to get involved in a field that interests them and genuinely contribute to ongoing studies. 

Other examples of citizen science studies include looking for new planets, assessing the populations of bird populations and keeping an eye on the fragile bumblebees. 





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