Australian Creatures Are Celebrated for Their Oddness: Here’s Another

A fossil horseshoe crab.

A fossil horseshoe crab species that stands apart from the crowd has been named after a prominent UNE paleontologist. (Image: via the University of New England)

Australian creatures like the echidna and the koala are celebrated for their oddness. The fossil record shows that these oddities reach far back into prehistory, as illustrated in the form of a fossil horseshoe crab found in Tasmania that has been renamed by UNE paleontologist Dr. Russell Bicknell, saying:

The specimen, owned by the University of Tasmania, was assigned to the genus Paleolimulus in 1989 — a category that Dr. Bicknell described as:

Many Australian creatures are unique

His re-assessment confirmed that it didn’t belong in that genus, and so he bestowed the fossil with a new name, Tasmaniolimulus patersoni, and placed it in the taxonomic Family that references Australia: Austrolimulidae.

This Tasmaniolimulus patersoni fossil is one of the strange Australian creatures.
Tasmaniolimulus patersoni fossil. (Image: via R Bicknell)

Tasmaniolimulus acknowledges the fossil’s location and patersoni pays homage to Professor John Paterson, Dr. Bicknell’s supervisor during his doctorate:

It is the third fossil horseshoe crab named by Dr. Bicknell. The first he named Sloveniolimulus rudkini, after a fellow horseshoe crab researcher, Dave Rudkin, and the second one he named Pickettia after one of Australia’s other premier paleontologists, John Pickett.

Artist's impression of Tasmaniolimulus patersoni.
Artist’s impression of Tasmaniolimulus patersoni. (Image: via Katrina Kenny)

Australia’s unusual fauna are likely a result of long geographic isolation, during which species took their own evolutionary paths as they occupied the ecological niches available to them.

Dr. Bicknell regards Tasmaniolimulus patersoni as another example of this Australian exceptionalism — except that the species existed right at the outset of the region’s divergence from other norms.

Provided by: University of New England [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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