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August 13, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Stigall Quoted about Discovery of Spaceship-Shaped Cambrian Arthropod

Dr. Alycia Stigall, portrait

Dr. Alycia Stigall

Dr. Alycia L. Stigall, Professor of Geological Sciences at Ohio University, was quoted in a PBS NOVA story headlined “Meet Cambroraster falcatus, the sediment-sifting ‘Roomba’ of the Cambrian: This crustacean-like critter stalked the seas half a billion years ago.”

…One of the first features Moysiuk took notice of was Cambroraster’s oddball of a head, which appeared to sport a stocky, horseshoe-shaped helmet. The shield’s silhouette bore an uncanny resemblance to the Millennium Falcon, the iconic Star Wars spaceship, Moysiuk says, and the fossil quickly became known as the “spaceship.” (The latter half of Cambroraster’s scientific name, falcatus, is actually a nerdy nod to the moniker.)

But without more of the fossil to go on, the spaceship’s origins remained mostly mysterious—until subsequent excavations unveiled a series of rock slabs that had enshrined Cambroraster fossils by the dozen. More and more spaceships appeared until, in the summer of 2018, Moysiuk and Caron found themselves with a collection of fossil fragments from more than 150 individuals.

The sheer number of specimens is “one of the things that’s most exciting about this discovery,” especially given that fossil records from this time period are often sparse, says Alycia Stigall, a paleoecologist at Ohio University who was not involved in the study. “This allows the authors to provide a comprehensive description of this species…and makes this animal really come alive.”

Read more at NOVA.

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