CBS Local — Paleontologists say that “the force” is strong with a newly discovered fossil in Idaho. The 245 million-year-old remnants of a prehistoric horseshoe crab have been named after the infamous Star Wars character, Darth Vader.

Researchers from New Mexico and Colorado named the four-inch-long fossil Vaderlimulus tricki after noting how much the crab looked like the helmet of the sci-fi villain.

“Vaderlimulus… has unusual body proportions that give it an odd appearance,” study author Allan Lerner of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science said in a press release.

The out-of-this-world fossil reportedly comes from the Mesozoic Era, when the landmass that’s now present-day Idaho actually had a coastline. While many crab fossils discovered are much older than the Vaderlimulus — some at least 470 million-years-old — scientists believe this Vader-shaped creature belongs to the Austrolimulidae family of crab, which is now extinct.

The Star Wars-themed name isn’t the first time scientists have reached into a galaxy far, far away for inspiration. Other creatures named for the movie’s characters include the Trigonopterus chewbacca (a tiny weevil discovered in New Guinea) and the Tetramorium jedi (an ant that lives in the rainforest of Madagascar).


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