Answer Monday

A fossil!

It’s Angelina!  

Not to be confused with Angelina!

Angelina Jolie. Photograph; Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2014, via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m surprised that this fossil was such a stumper—nobody came close to identifying even the genus! Dan Phelps, who kindly provided the photograph, thinks that the species is probably A. sedgwickii, named after the geologist Adam Sedgwick (1785–1873), who proposed the Devonian and Cambrian periods and was a geological mentor to the young Charles Darwin. And A. sedgwickii is a celebrity of sorts—writing in Geology Today in 1992, Richard A. Fortey and Robert M. Owens explain, “As a classic example of a deformed fossil, it has featured not only in palaeontological but also in structural geology textbooks, and various methodologies have been employed to attempt to restore it to its original shape.” (They then report on less deformed specimens recently found in Shropshire, which cast a new light on what the trilobite really looked like.) That’s why Phelps was hinting, “Don’t you notice something odd about the shape of the trilobite?”

So the celebrity of A. sedgwickii might have helped you identify the genus. But you might have also noticed the silly paragraph into which I shoehorned a lot of references to Angelina Jolie’s film work:

This Unbroken (2014) specimen presumably lived By the Sea (2015) because it Wanted (2008) Salt (2010). With A Mighty Heart (2007) it roamed Beyond Borders (2003) of the Hell’s Kitchen (1998) that was the Ordovician sea—although whether it was involved in Taking Lives (2004) or just grazing on debris I am Without Evidence (1995); trilobites had a diversity of lifestyles. But, since bones didn’t arrive until [Sky Captain and] The World of Tomorrow (2004), it would be entirely anachronistic to think of it as The Bone Collector (1999) of its era. Anyhow, that’s Life, Or Something Like It (2002) in the early Ordovician.

There’s no way Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) was going to make it, of course.

Anyhow, a tip of the three-lobed hat to Dan Phelps for the photograph of Angelina, and a tip of the foreign and commonwealth hat to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (via Wikimedia Commons) for the photograph of Angelina.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

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