9 year-old-school girl finds unknown shrimp fossil

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A 9-year-old girl has found a fossil of an unknown type of shrimp believed to be about 130 million years old in Yuasacho, Wakayama Prefecture, a natural history museum announced Wednesday.

The fossil found by Natsumi Kumagai, a fourth-grader at Ozaki Primary School in Hannan, Osaka Prefecture, was the second discovery in the nation of the genus Hoploparia from the early Cretaceous period. The shrimp was named Hoploparia natsumiae, after the girl and the Latin suffix ae, which follows a feminine noun.

The shrimp is believed to have measured at least 10 centimeters and to have had long claws of 5.1 centimeters. It is believed to be an ancestor of the lobster.

Kumagai joined an excavation event organized by the Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History based in Kainan in the prefecture in December last year after being invited by her father, who is interested in fossils.

She reportedly picked up a large rock after three hours of searching, and discovered the brick-colored fossil when her father broke the rock with a hammer.

Kumagai cried out for joy and ran to a museum curator. The curator asked her to let the museum examine the fossil, but she refused and took the rocks home.

The museum later examined the fossil and discovered it was a new type of shrimp.

The finding was introduced in September in a Mexican academic magazine, along with findings of four other unknown types of shellfish fossils.

Kumagai said at a press conference hosted by the museum Wednesday: “I’m happy that my name will remain as the scientific name [of the shrimp]. I hope to become a museum curator and study fossils of reptiles and fish.”

The fossil will be displayed at the museum from Saturday.
(Dec. 12, 2008)

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