Monday, 17 December 2012

Pauline avibella 425m-year-old fossil 'a new species'

Fossils discovered of 425-million-year-old tiny shrimp-like creatures are of a species new to science, say experts.

Found in Herefordshire, the invertebrates were preserved by volcanic ash when the UK had a subtropical climate.

The fossils show the animals' shells and soft tissues, such as eyes and limbs, the Leicester experts say.

Prof David Siveter said the species, named Pauline avibella in honour of his late wife, was a rare discovery.

"The find is important because it is one of only a handful preserving the fossilised soft-tissues of ostracods [type of crustacean]," he said.

"[The fossils] allow unparalleled insight into the ancient biology, community structure and evolution of animals."

Avibella was chosen because it means beautiful bird, reflecting the fact the shell of these creatures looks like a wing to those that have studied it.

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