Geert Willemen is a retired teacher from Middlebers who apparently made a very special discovery in an old coal mine waste pile. There he enjoys searching for ancient plant remains and fossils as a hobby. A few years ago, he accidentally discovered a new species of millipede, 310 million years old. From Monday, the fossil will have a special place in the permanent exhibition of the Prehistoric Museum in Boxtel.
The retired teacher made his discovery in Egelshofen, Limburg. Over the years, he collected a wide range of plant remains mainly during searches in the waste mountains of coal mines in southern Limburg. The print of the long creature he discovered in August 2011 also initially ended up in his collection of fossil plants. But he kept wondering what exactly he had found.
That’s why he put out a magazine appeal to fossil collectors in Limburg at the beginning of 2019. But there was no response at all. So, later that year, Geert went to the Prehistoric Museum in Boxtel, with his fossil carefully packed in a box. Museum director René Freige specializes in the field of arthropod fossils and immediately saw this as an exceptional find.
The fossil found by Geert consists of a positive piece (a piece with a horn-like shield) and a negative (the imprint of the shield). He was sent to a famous scientific research institute in Munich. The animal was examined there using the latest technology. It turns out that it is not only a new species, but also a new biological group for science.
In collaboration with the Prehistoric Museum, a publication was prepared and sent to a leading international scientific journal. The post was published last weekend. Now, twelve years after Geert Willemen’s discovery, the Netherlands has a new, very old and very special resident.
The ancient Dutch millipede was called lauravolsella willemini. With this name Willeman is thanked and honored for this acquisition in paleontology.
The anus is shaped like a triangular pincer
According to the Prehistoric Museum, the new discovery shows a very special way of wrapping, which is no longer visible in today’s millipedes. “The body segments are very long, which made this special coiling system possible. The triangular, pincer-shaped shape of the anus is also completely new to this set.”
The Prehistoric Museum has been working with amateur collectors for years. This cooperation regularly bears fruit.
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