Cascolus Ravitis – Commemorating a Living Legend.


 

Hidden deep in the chasms of ancient volcanic rock in Herefordshire, a 430-million-year-old fossil has been discovered by researchers, which has been affectionately named after beloved television presenter, Sir David Attenborough.

 

Measuring less than a centimetre in length, this tiny crustacean has been named Cascolus Ravitis. Cascolus is a Latin rendering of the Old English equivalent to Attenborough. Meanwhile, Ravitis is somewhat more in homage to Sir Davd’s life – it’s the Roman name for Leicester, where Sir David lived during his days spent studying at University College Leicester.

 

The fossil was named after Sir David by researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Leicester, Yale and Imperial College London. Speaking about the discovery to the BBC, Sir David commented, “The biggest compliment that a biologist or palaeontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honour and I take this as a very great compliment.”

 

Sir David Attenborough

Cascolus ravitis

Cascolus ravitis

Cascolus ravitis

Cascolus ravitis

 

Cascolus Ravitis is a member of the arthropod family, which also includes insects, spiders, shrimp and crayfish. Cascolus Ravitis is the latest in a long line of discoveries named after Sir David Attenborough. Past discoveries include “Electrotettix attenboroughi”, a pygmy grasshopper species preserved in amber discovered in the Dominican Republic in 2014, a species of wildflower discovered in the Brecon Beacons, named “Attenborough Hawkweed”, and the ”Dinosaur Attenborosaurus conybeare”, a species of plesiosaur which roamed the earth millions of years ago.

 

Sir David Attenborough

Species named after Sir David Attenborough. Left to Right; Electrotettix attenboroughi grasshopper, Blakea attenboroughii plant, Attenborosaurus conybeari pliosaurid and Materpiscis attenboroughi fish.

 

Professor David Siviter is the lead researcher at the University of Leicester, and stated that his inspiration for his interest in natural history came from Sir David Attenborough. In the Professor’s opinion, one of many reasons Sir David became a great naturalist was through his collection of Jurassic rock fossils in the Leicester countryside.

The fossil was so well preserved that the research team were able to use 3D computer modelling to recreate Cascolus Ravitis, showing its features, which include minuscule eyes, delicate antennae, multiple jointed limbs and a tough exoskeleton.