A fossil found in Kilkenny in 1908 proves that a form of woodlice was crawling on grounds here 360 million years ago.
The prehistoric imprint was discovered in a quarry in Kiltorcan, Ballyhale and new research by a team of scientists from Switzerland, Harvard, and the Netherlands led by UCC and published this week in the science journal Biology Letters, shows that it’s a giant cousin of the common crustacean you’d find in your garden.
Called Oxyuropoda, it was land-based.
Lead researcher Dr Ninon Robin is a postdoctoral researcher at University College Cork’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and she’s been telling KCLR News that the finding led to decades of debate, saying “It was showing a mix of different crustacean features, some were showing really noticeable woodlice features but it was also combining a lot of different things that were leading to different animals, the fossil of this animal is extremely flat, it’s quite big, it looks like a very large woodlice, it’s about 10cm long which is crazy for this type of animal”.
She adds “100 years later we’ve been using cutting edge imaging techniques which actually look at the fossil in a different way so instead of looking at it using the normal light we used another type of light and this actually revealed some details of the anatomy now we know that this animal is actually the oldest cousin of woodlice”.
Dr Robin also says back then Kilkenny “Was a flood plain at that time and it was pretty hot with a pretty high level of CO2 and at the time actually, there was not that many animals still on land”.