Scientist invokes the Depp claws in naming ancient fossil

'Edwards Scissorhands' character inspired name for crustacean


Actor Johnny Depp has received a palaeontological distinction – having a 505 million-year-old fossil named in his honour. The accolade may lose a bit of its glitter given that the creature was likely a seabed scavenger, but at least the sentiment was heartfelt.

David Legg, the scientist who named the fossil, admitted to being a Johnny Depp fan. The claws put him in mind of the character Edward Scissorhands played by the actor in the film of the same name released in 1990.

“So what better way to honour the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea,” the researcher said. Johnny Depp has yet to reveal how such immortalisation has affected him.

Even being able to say the official name requires some skill, Kooteninchela deppi . Maybe something like Johnnydeppasaurus might have been a nicer alternative.

That would have made a hash of the naming conventions used by palaeontologists however. Quite aside from Kooteninchela deppi scuttling about in shallow seas off what is now western Canada a good 230 million years before dinosaurs actually began to appear.

The critter looks fearsome, but in fact was no more than four centimetres long. Its scissors-like claws are what inspired Dr Legg, of the department of earth science and engineering at Imperial College London, to name it after Depp.

Johnnydeppasaurus is a distant ancestor of today’s lobsters and scorpions, the researchers believe. Perhaps there is an extra cachet here for Depp given that the animal belongs to a group known as the “great appendage” arthropods. That refers of course to the enlarged pincer-like front claws that this group sports.

Details of the research are in the Journal of Palaeontology .

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