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archenemy fossil1Meet “Melusinaster arcusinimus”, the Arch Enemy fossil at Neumünster Abbey, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg from 7th June - 9th September at the Rock Fossils Exhibition. The secret love between palaeontology and Rock music! What’s cooler than palaeontology and Rock music? Exactly: the union of the two! The secret relationship between Rock and fossil science flourished underground for a long time, but now it’s time to reveal this unlikely love. Some palaeontologists express their preference for Rock and Metal by naming new types of fossils after their favourite Rock stars. These extraordinary Rock fossils, together with the music that accompanied their scientific discovery, are immortal ambassadors of diversity and passion.

When a scientist discovers a new and unknown fossil, he may give it a scientific name. Some choose a name that reflects the shape of the animal, some choose a name that refers to where it is found, and others name it after their favourite rock star. The exhibition “Rock Fossils”, which can be admired in “Neimënster” (Neumünster Abbey) from 7 June to 9 September in collaboration with the “natur musée”, celebrates the fossils, the scientists and the Rock stars.

The exhibition took place for the first time in 2013 in the Danish “Geomuseum Faxe” and consisted at that time only of two reconstructions and some posters. Since then it has grown and the exhibits are on tour in tailor-made boxes. In addition to the exhibition in “Neimënster”, a series of concerts, workshops and lectures will take place there. The Luxembourg Symphonic Metal band ELYSIAN GATES played on the day of the vernissage. On July 6, there was also the “Rock Fossils alive!” concert with local heroes DESDEMONIA and KRATON. But also two German bands had the honour to play at a museum that evening: NACHTSCHATTEN and SKOLOPENDAR. Another highlight is the lecture on July 15 by Dr Mark Benecke, known from the RTLII crime series ‘Autopsy - Mysterious Deaths’.

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Recently, palaeontologist Ben Thuy from the Luxembourg Natural History Museum and his co-author Sabine Stöhr, zoologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, solved a significant part of the mystery. They analysed fossil remains of two brittle star species from the Jurassic of Luxembourg and Germany and were surprised to discover that these fossils represent the previously overlooked ancestors of the basket stars! “The fossils we examined are microscopic skeletal parts retrieved from sieve-washed clays, hardly visible to the naked eye”, Ben Thuy, lead-author of the study, explains, “but sometimes even tiny fossils can provide ground-breaking insights into the evolution of marine life”.

“Naming fossils after one of my favourite bands is an extraordinary opportunity to combine two of my greatest passions: science and music”
, explains Ben Thuy. Because scientific names are often Latinised, one of the new species was named Melusinaster arcusinimus, literally translating into “arch enemy”. The second species specifically honours ARCH ENEMY vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, “for being an inspiring person, and to pay tribute to the intensity, authenticity and passion that she conveys in her powerful vocals” as stated in the original scientific publication.

During the ARCH ENEMY concert in the Rockhal on July 10th, Ben Thuy, the palaeontologist, let himself be invited by the group on stage in order to give the musician a representation of a new species of fossil that he had just discovered and that he named after the group.

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Link of Musée National d’histoire naturelle (MNHN):
Photo of Arch Enemy by Paul Tine

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