Scientists Have Named a Crocodile After Lemmy of Motörhead

Getty Images / Gaye Gerard

The 1980 Motörhead song, and timeless banger, “Love Me Like a Reptile,” might have been about snakes, but Ian Fraser Kilmister, aka Lemmy, the legendary band’s iconic frontman, was always definitely a crocodile. And now the distinction is scientifically official as the late singer, who died in 2015, has seen a new species named after him.

Lemmysuchus obtusidens, which lived a short while after Lemmy was born, some 164 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic Period, claimed a skull of more than three feet in length and its entire body was a remarkable 19 feet long, so just shorter than Lemmy.

“It would have been one of the biggest coastal predators of its time,” speculated Michela Johnson of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the institution that bestowed the ancient species with the gift of Lemmy’s name. The croc fossils are in the Natural History Museum of London. The announcement was made this week in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

The marine croc was dug up about 100 years ago from a clay pit quarry, a pit likely so foul that Lemmy would welcome it, near Peterborough, which is a straight shot up from London to the tune of about 85 miles. But an error in categorizing it had it lumped in with lesser croc specimens from the area until scientists took a new look at this croc, that presumably had been killed by death.

Here’s how the scientists discovered Lemmysuchus was no ordinary croc: They compared bones, basically, doing “careful anatomical comparison,” making sure to stay clean in their research and avoiding any overkill.

A palaeoartist's reconstruction of Lemmysuchus (Lemmy's crocodile) obtusidens (blunt toothed). The reconstruction contains details relating to Motörhead, with the pattern on the head based on the band's Snaggletooth logo.

Mark Witton/Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Scientists discovered that much like Lemmy, it toured Europe, but was most comfortable in shallow seas on the coasts.

This croc ate turtles by crushing tiny turtle shells with their blunt teeth — unlike other such crocs that fed on fish. For Lemmysuchus, the chase was clearly, better than the catch.

“Although Lemmy passed away at the end of 2015,’ said Lorna Stell of the Natural History Museum of London, “we’d like to think that he would have raised a glass to Lemmysuchus, one of the nastiest sea creatures to have ever inhabited the Earth.”

It’s a snaggletooth that would most definitely have earned Lemmy’s respect, even if it’s been stone dead forever.

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