‘Earliest animal predator’ named after David Attenborough

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. anemone / əˈnɛm əˌni / (n.) – a colorful sea creature that has a soft body and lives on hard surfaces, like a rock

    I went diving last weekend. I enjoyed swimming with various fishes and looking at different kinds of anemones.

  2. massively / ˈmæs ɪv li / (adv.) – relating to something unusually large in amount or degree

    Ted believes that massively successful companies also experienced great hardships.

  3. densely / ˈdɛns li / (adv.) – relating to parts, objects, or people that are placed very closely with each other

    The concert I went to last night was densely packed with people.

  4. tentacle / ˈtɛn tə kəl / (n.) – one of the long arms of some sea animals used for catching food, moving around, etc.

    An octopus has eight tentacles.

  5. resemblance / rɪˈzɛm bləns / (n.) – the state in which two things or people look very similar

    Tony and Liam must be brothers. Look at their photos, there’s a clear resemblance between the two.


Read the text below.

A fossil of a 560-million-year-old creature, which researchers believe to be the first animal predator, has been named after the British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough.

Scientists said they believe the specimen, named Auroralumina attenboroughii, is the earliest creature known to have a skeleton. It is related to the group that includes corals, jellyfish and anemones, they say.

“It’s generally held that modern animal groups like jellyfish appeared 540 million years ago in the Cambrian explosion,” said Phil Wilby, a palaeontologist at the British Geological Survey. “But this predator predates that by 20 million years.”

He said it was “massively exciting” to know that the fossil was one of possibly many that hold the key to “when complex life began on Earth.”

The fossil was found in Charnwood Forest near Leicester in central England, where Attenborough used to go fossil hunting.

The 96-year-old said he was “truly delighted.”

Frankie Dunn, from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, said the specimen was very different to other fossils found in Charnwood Forest and around the world.

Dunn said, unlike most other fossils from the Cambrian period, “this one clearly has a skeleton, with densely-packed tentacles that would have waved around in the water capturing passing food, much like corals and sea anemones do today.”

The first part of the creature’s name is Latin for dawn lantern, in recognition of its great age and resemblance to a burning torch.

The Cambrian explosion, which took place between about 541 million to 530 million years ago, was an evolutionary burst that saw the emergence of a huge diversity of animals. Many of the creatures evolved hard body parts such as calcium carbonate shells during this time.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • At 96, Attenborough still gets excited about the wonders of nature. In your opinion, what fuels a person’s lifetime passion? Discuss.
  • Attenborough has produced TV shows about science and nature because of his passion. What is something you’re passionate about? What do you do to develop your passion? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Paleontology is the scientific study of living things that existed millions of years ago. In your opinion, what can people benefit from studying fossils and finding out about ancient life? Discuss.
  • The fossil was found in a forest where Attenborough used to go fossil hunting. What would you do if you accidentally discovered an animal or a plant fossil in a forest? Discuss.