The first animal predator, said to have existed 560-million years ago, has been identified in a fossil and has been given the name David Attenborough in honour of the British naturalist and broadcaster.
On Monday, researchers said they thought the species, known as Auroralumina attenboroughii, was the earliest known animal with a skeleton. They claim that it belongs to the same family as corals, jellyfish, and anemones.
‘It’s generally held that modern animal groups like jellyfish appeared 540 million years ago in the Cambrian explosion,’ said Phil Wilby, a palaeontologist at the British Geological Survey. ‘But this predator predates that by 20 million years.’
Knowing that the fossil was one of potentially many that hold the answer to ‘when sophisticated life originated on Earth,’ he claimed, was ‘massively exciting.’
Attenborough liked to go fossil hunting in Charnwood Forest in central England, close to Leicester. 96-year-old man declared himself ‘very thrilled.’
The specimen, according to Frankie Dunn of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, is significantly distinct from other fossils discovered in Charnwood Forest and elsewhere in the world.
Like corals and sea anemones do today, Dunn noted that ‘this one clearly has a skeleton, with densely-packed tentacles that would have waved around in the water capturing passing food, much like corals and sea anemones do today.’
Due to the creature’s extreme age and appearance to a flaming torch, the first half of its name is derived from the Latin meaning dawn lantern.
An evolutionary boom known as the Cambrian explosion, which occurred between 541 and 530 million years ago, resulted in the appearance of an enormous diversity of animal species. During this time, a lot of the organisms developed hard body parts like calcium carbonate shells.