An international team of researchers has made a very rare discovery in the Welsh borders with Herefordshire of a species of animal-related to crabs,lobsters and shrimps-that is new to the science.
Scientists from the universities of Leicester,Oxford,Imperial and Yale have announced their dicovery of a new and scientifically fossil species of ostracod in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B. The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.
The discovered species,which is up to l0 millimetres long, is special because it is exceptionally well preserved,complete with not only the shell but also the soft parts-its body,limbs,eyes gills and alimentary system. Such discoveries are extremely rare in the fossil record.. The discovery of the tiny shelled arthropod was made in 425 million-year-old limestone rocks in the Herefordshire/Welsh Borderland.
The rocks at the site date to the Silurian period of geological time,when southern Britain was a sea area on a small continent situated in warm southerly subtropical latitudes. The ostracods and associated marine animals living there were covered by a fall of volcanic ash that preserved them frozen in time.
Professor David Siveter,of the University of Leicester Department of Geology said: ” The two ostracod specimens discovered represent a genus and species new to science named Pauline avibella. The genus is named in honour of a special person and avibella means ‘ beautiful bird ‘, so named because of the fancied resemblance of a prominent feature of the shell to the wing of a bird.
“Fossil discoveries in general help elucidate our own place in the tree of life. This discovery adds another piece of knowledge in the jigsaw of understanding the diversity and evolution of animals” “It is exciting to discover that a common group of fossils that we thought we knew a lot about may well have been hoodwinking us.
Newly discovered fossil Pauline avibella