Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 27e
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5847.27e

NAMING RIGHTS. Shiva Balak Misra was a graduate student at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, when he discovered the 565-million-year-old fossils of soft-bodied organisms shaped like leaves and spindles. Misra published his findings in the Geological Society of America Bulletin but returned to his native village in north India in 1971 to build a school.


Now, 40 years after the discovery, the fossils bear his name. Fractofusus misrai belongs to a class of fossils known as Ediacaran life forms: creatures that emerged about 600 million years ago and thrived until the dawn of the Cambrian 540 million years ago. “We needed a formal nomenclature, and we didn't want to forget the people associated with past discoveries,” says Guy Narbonne, a paleontologist at Queen's University in Kingston, who led the naming initiative.


Misra says he left research to realize his dream of founding a school in Kunaura, the village where he spent his childhood. “I had to walk 10 kilometers to school until class [grade] eight,” says Misra. Five years after founding the school, however, he needed an income and became a geology professor at Kumaon University in Nainital, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas. His wife now manages the school, which has 700 students in grades 1 to 10.

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