Rare fossil found in Tasmania named after Doctor Who

Tom Baker in London, 1991, at a photocall in Trafalgar Square
Tom Baker in London, 1991, at a photocall in Trafalgar Square

An extremely rare fossils of ancient sea life found in Tasmania has been named after TV timelord Doctor Who.

Australian scientists, Dr Patrick M. Smith and Dr Malte C.Ebach have have published their findings about Gravicalymene bakeri in the Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology (TALC)

Found in the shales of the Gordon Group, Northern Tasmania, the rare, and now extinct, marine animal is believed to be about 450 million years old.

During this time, Australia was part of the great landmass Gondwana, when complex marine ecosystems were starting to develop. It was also a time when the first primitive plants were appearing on land.

Naming the new fossil after Tom Baker, Dr Smith said he was inspired to follow a career in science thanks to Tom Baker's particular incarnation of the character, Doctor Who.

"I'm not old enough to remember Tom Baker's episodes which were originally aired in 1974-81," Dr Smith said.

"However, growing up as a teenager when the series re-aired in the early 2000s I followed the show religiously and became convinced that a career in science was guaranteed to improve the world.

"In particular, it inspired me to study the concept of 'Time' - as the Doctor travels through time. Hence, the area of science I specialised in is biostratigraphy which is all about dating the age of Earth and its rocks," Smith added.

Actor Tom Baker was thrilled to hear the news that an ancient and incredibly rare specimen had been named in his honour.

"I am delighted to be entitled at last. I hope the Who World will share my joy. Will I be allowed to tack "Fossil" on official correspondence? I hope the Who World will celebrate this fresh honour and will spread the news to those who live in remote places. Happy days to all the Who fans everywhere," Mr Baker, who is based in the UK, said.

Co-author, Dr. Ebach, who first found the trilobites in the late 1990s, said that palaeontologists often discover fossils in unusual circumstances.

"In the late 1990s I was caught short while driving through Gunns Plains in Tasmania. While relieving myself on a convenient boulder I noticed that it was covered in trilobites.

"Palaeontologists discover fossils in the most surprising ways."