Ancient swamp creature found by WFU anthropologist named after Mick Jagger

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Sir Mick Jagger (file photo)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Sir Mick Jagger can add having a prehistoric swamp creature named after him to his list of accolades.

Ellen Miller, an associate professor of anthropology who specializes in paleoanthropology at Wake Forest University, didn’t hesitate to pay homage to the rock-and-roll legend when it came to naming a new fossil she surmised had large, sensitive lips.

“I like the Rolling Stones,” Miller said with a big smile. “I’m a huge Stones fan.”

That’s why a swamp-dwelling creature that lived 19 million years ago in Africa is now known by the scientific name Jaggermeryx naida, or “Jagger’s water nymph,” after Jagger, who has fronted the Rolling Stones since 1962.

Miller is the co-author of a paper about the fossil discovery published in the September issue of the Journal of Paleontology.

The fossil fragments were discovered by Miller and fellow researchers in the Egyptian desert. Geological data, combined with the fossils, suggest that millions of years ago the area where the fragments were found was an estuary characterized by marsh and swamps.

The fragments suggested the creature was about the size of a deer.

“We imagine its lifestyle was like that of a water deer, standing in water and foraging for plants along the river bank,” Miller said.

The Jaggermeryx fossils now reside in collections at Duke University, the Cairo Geological Museum and Cairo University.

Miller said some of her colleagues suggested naming the fossil after another celebrity known for her big lips — Angelina Jolie — but Jagger was a no-brainer for her.

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