Newly-Discovered Fireworm Fossil Named After Punk Icon Henry Rollins


Punk icon Henry Rollins is many things: the former frontman and founding member of Blag Flag, a TV and radio personality, a comedian, a spoken-word artist and author of more than a dozen books, an actor and a human rights activist, but now, he has one more laurel to deservedly (and strangely) rest on: the namesake of a marine fireworm fossil.

Discovered by scientists at the University of Bristol and the Natural History Museum, the fossil worm, classified as a polychaete annelid, was named Rollinschaeta myoplena by the team for the fireworm's distinct musculature — which, apparently, is redolent of Rollins' own.

Wait — muscle in a fossil?

"Fossil muscle tissue is rare and usually not described in any detail by paleontologists," said Bristol Ph.D. student Luke Parry, who helped unearth the prehistoric fossil in Lebanon, "but our discovery highlights that soft tissues preserved in fossils can offer details approaching what we can observe in living organisms."

As for a name?

"When choosing a name for our muscly beast, we decided to honor Henry Rollins, the legendary, muscular frontman of L.A. punk band Black Flag," he added.

To check out the fireworm's preserved biceps — or whatever the worm-like equivalent would be — the researchers put the fossil through a CAT Scan, using 3D images garnered from the process to positively identify the species — which is the ancestor of modern-day predatory worms that inhabit coral reefs — as well as observe how the ancient worm's muscles were arranged.

Dr. Jakob Vinther, of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, explained that, when he and his colleagues performed their research, they noticed that the worm was preserved in "almost pure muscle." He elaborated that fireworms are quite active during the day on coral reefs and other areas in which the current is strong, and so, they were quite the buff worm, even compared with other similar worms.


Photo: ceedub13 | Flickr

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