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245 million year old fossil looks like Darth vader, say scientists

An image of the first fossil horseshoe crab from the Trias of North America, next to a picture of Darth vader. (Credit: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, and Alex Vros)

Darth vader may be Luke Skywalker’s father (spoiler alert), but he was also the twin of a horseshoe crab that lived 245 million years ago.

Paleontologists from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque and the University of Colorado in Denver have been published in a scientific article in which the extinct fossil horseshoe crab and its eerie resemblance to the headgear worn by Anakin Skywalker wears when he becomes a Father.

Known as Vaderlimulus, the horseshoe crab “unusual body proportions that give it a strange appearance,” lead author Allan J. Lerner said in a press release.

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The team, which includes Lerner, Spencer G. Lucas and Martin Lockley, to the conclusion that Vaderlimulus belonged to an extinct part of the horseshoe family known as Austrolimulidae. Vaderlimulus is the first North American fossil horseshoe crab from the rocks of the Triassic Period, which ended with 201 million years ago, when the dinosaurs and mamals had just started their evolutionary development.

Horseshoe crabs have been around for at least 470 million years, according to fossil records, but fossils are rare, making Vaderlimulus a special case.

Horseshoe crabs are not true crabs, as they are part of the Limulidae family and are more closely related to scorpions and spiders. There are only four species left on the planet, with a population shrinks.

The four types are the mangrove horseshoe crab, found in Southeast Asia), the Atlantic horseshoe crab (found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast of the Atlantic ocean), the Tachypleus gigas, South-east and East Asia) and Tachypleus tridentatus, which is located in South-east and East Asia.

The fossils were found in the current Idaho, which was part of the supercontinent Pangea.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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