Science

Extinct Species Of Marine Hunter Named After Johnny Depp

By James Maynard , May 20, 2013 08:14 AM EDT
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Johnny Depp has now reached a new level of fame - one of the actor's best-known characters, Edward Scissorhands, is the namesake of a newly-discovered extinct marine creature.

The fossils found reveal the body structure of a previously-unknown 550 million-year old sea creature. This new species was named Kooteninchela deppi, in honor of Depp. This strange marine creature, less than two inches long, is an ancestor to lobsters and scorpions. It sported multiple legs like a millipede and compound eyes, similar in design to that of a fly. These eyes were located on the ends of movable stalks called peduncles.

David Legg, a PhD student at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, said, "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. Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film, as 'chela' is Latin for claws or scissors."

Kooteninchela deppi may help scientists understand more about the Cambrian period of Earth's history. It was at that time that many modern forms of life first arose. Over half a billion years ago, these creatures roamed the shallow areas of seas off the coast of British Columbia. At the time, this region was located much closer to the equator than it is today, making the water there much warmer than than it is at present. The sea bottom in the area at that time was covered in sponges, giving deppi a natural hiding location. Legg believes that the creature used its scissor-like appendages to hunt for food among the wild sponges. There may also be millions of more species related to deppi waiting to be found.

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."

With its long, sharp appendages, the creature is a natural fit with the character of Edward Scissorhands. In the 1990 movie, Johnny Depp plays a artificial man with a set of blades in the place of fingers, which stands in contrast to his gentle personality.  

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