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You were amazing in Chocolat Imperial College London
fossil scissorhands

500 million-year-old fossil named after Johnny Depp

The resemblance is uncanny.

ON THE FACE of it, they don’t seem to have a lot in common.

One is 500 million years old, the other is a sprightly 49. One lived in the sea while the other plays a character who sails the seas. One was a scavenger with a elongated spine and millipede-like legs, while the other has been named Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine.

And yet, a scientist at Imperial College London saw enough of a similarity between an ancient fossilised creature and Johnny Depp to name his discovery after the actor.

David Legg discovered the now-extinct ancestor of lobsters and scorpions during his research and decided to name it Kooteninchela deppi after Johnny Depp for his role in Edward Scissorhands due to the similarities between the character’s appendages and the creature’s claws.

“When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands,” said Legg. “Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors.”

In truth I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honour the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the seas?

The 505 million-year-old fossil Legg discovered would have lived in very shallow seas off the coast of Canada during the Cambrian period when nearly all modern animal types emerged. At the time, the coastline would have been situated much closer to the equator than it is now and the sea temperature would have been much hotter than it is now.

The researcher believes that the creature would have used its large Edward Scissorhands-like claws to capture prey or to probe the sea floor looking for sea creatures hiding in the sediment.

Kooteninchela deppi was about four centimetres long with large eyes with many lenses, similar to the compound eyes of a fly. It was an early relation of arthropods, which includes spiders, scorpions, centipdes, insects and crabs.

The ‘scissor-like’ fossilised claws of the Kooteninchela depi (Image: Imperial College London)

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