queen fossil

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natgeo On assignment with @daviddoubilet // Photographing an American crocodile at night in the mangroves of Gardens of the Queen National Park, Cuba. This crocodile rested in the soft seagrass for several minutes and then rose slowly to take a breath of air and return to the bottom to sleep again. Crocodiles are called the engineers of the mangroves because their movements increase circulation of water and nutrients through the dense root systems of the mangroves. Gardens of the Queen Marine Preserve, located fifty miles south of Cuba, is a time capsule in the Caribbean that looks much like it did when Columbus arrived and named it in honor of his Queen. From @natgeo story Underwater Jewels in the Path of Tourism with team @jenniferhayesig and #LeandroBlanco

Weird prehistoric beast conjures up images of ‘Star Wars’ queen

What does a strange giraffe-like animal with three horns atop its head and a set of fangs that roamed Europe about 15 million years ago have in common with a pretty young queen from the “Star Wars” movies?

Plenty, according to the scientists who on Wednesday announced the discovery in Spain’s Cuenca province of beautifully preserved fossils of this creature.

They gave it the scientific name Xenokeryx amidalae, meaning “strange horn of Amidala,” referring to the “Star Wars” character Queen Amidala, played by actress Natalie Portman.

The peculiar shape of Xenokeryx’s largest horn was “extremely similar to one of the hairstyles that Amidala shows off in 'Star Wars’ Episode 1 when she is the queen of her home planet Naboo,” said paleontologist Israel Sanchez of the National Museum of Natural History in Madrid.

Xenokeryx was a herbivore about as big as an average deer. The males had two small horns like those of a giraffe above the eyes and a larger one shaped a bit like the letter “T” on the back of the head. The males also boasted enlarged sabre-like upper canines that likely were used for display to impress other members of the species, Sanchez said.

Females were hornless and fangless.

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I cannot say I ever realized how much a bowl of Trilobites could look like a bowl of cereal. (This cereal is >250 million years old).

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