12 animals named after celebrities | BBC Wildlife

Somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000 new species of plants and animals are discovered each year, and thus their name must be mentioned. Although many are given mundane and descriptive names, others are given more glamorous titles.

Scientists often turn to their favorite icons from popular culture, or those that relate to some interesting aspect of the species – their color, pattern or behavior. In addition to being fun, there are some very good reasons to do it.

It can be a very effective way to draw much-needed attention to endangered or threatened species, as media coverage raises awareness of their plight. Below is a list of some of the most interesting and humorous examples.

12 animal species named after celebrities

yodos thanks – Shakira

yodos thanks (Pictured female), wasp. © Eduardo Chimbori

In one of the most fun examples, this type of hornet is named after the famous Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira. Scientists who discovered the hornet in the eastern Andes in Ecuador explained that the name was inspired by a specific and fascinating behaviour.

This wasp belongs to the Braconidae family of parasitic wasps, which means that for reproduction it lays its eggs inside the body of another animal – a host. This particular species does so inside a type of larva, and in fact the larvae hatch inside. This causes the caterpillar’s body to twist and twist in a way reminiscent of the famous dance moves of the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer!

Read the full paper in English ZooKeys.

Shakira performs on stage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. © Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty

Plentina Beyonce – Beyonce

Plentina Beyonceflies. © CSIRO, Bryan Lessard

The genre is also named after the legendary and unnamed pop star, Beyoncé. This time she was not named after her moves. The horse fly, discovered in 1981 but not named and described until 2011, has a distinctive shiny bump, due to a thick patch of golden hair on its abdomen.

The association with Beyoncé is a combination of the fact that this reminded researchers of her song “Bootylicious”, and because they thought she was the “singer of the flies all the time.” Beyoncé has yet to comment on this extraordinary honor.

Read the full paper in English Australian Journal of Entomology.

Beyonce Knowles performing on stage in Cardiff in 2018. © Kevin Mazur / Getty Images For Parkwood Entertainment

More than 40 species – Sir David Attenborough

Male Pristimantes Attenborough. © Edgar Lear and Rudolf von Mai. Used under CC via Wikimedia.

Not surprisingly, there are many species named after Sir David Attenborough – more than 40 species of animals, plants and even protists bear his name, including the Attenborough rubber frog (Prisimantis attenboroughi, pictured above), the Attenborough jug factory (fairies Attenborough) and burgundy snail (Attenborougharyon Rubicondus).

Sir David Attenborough with a picture Attenborougharyon Rubicondusin an event for which he was awarded the Lifetime Patron Award by the Museum of Australia in 2017. © James D. Morgan / Getty

Heteragrion freddiemercuryi, H. brianmayi, H. rogertaylori, and H. Johndeaconi – queen

Not just a famous singer, but a whole group! Apparently a huge Queen fan, this researcher named four agonizing same-sex species after rock stars, one for each member. This was done to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary, as well as to honor their incredible talents.

British rock band Queen, London, 1973. From left to right: drummer Roger Taylor, singer Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), guitarist Brian May, and bassist John Deacon. © Michael Putland/Getty

Radio Sericomyrmexheadi – Radiohead

Radio SericomyrmexheadiAnt. © Anna Jesovnik

This ant was also named after an entire squad, but only one species this time, this ant was named in honor of the positive work of celebrities, rather than a specific aspect of animals.

The authors explain that the name was chosen in recognition of the band’s “longstanding efforts in environmental activism, particularly in raising awareness of climate change, and in honor of their music, which is an excellent companion during the long hours at the microscope while conducting taxonomic reviews of ants.”

Read the full paper in English ZooKeys.

Rock band Radiohead poses for a photo at Capitol Records during the release of their album ok computer in Los Angeles, 1997. © Jim Steinfeldt / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Pinkfluida – home country

Some celebrities not only get the honor of naming a species after them, but an entire taxonomic group! It is with Pinkfluida The genus of spiders with the same name is easy to guess. According to the biologists who gave it a name, they wanted a name that reflected the uniqueness of the spiders, which have very distinct physical features, and they thought the eclectic style of prog rock did just that.

Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmore, Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, group photo outside the stage, 1971 © Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty

Etmopterus bench – Peter Benchley

Ninja lanternshark (Etmopterus bench). © Vasquez et al 2015. Via Wikimedia, used under CC by 4.0.

Some people have had the honor of naming an animal after them due to their related creative work. For example, the Ninja Lantern Shark (Etmopterus bench) after Peter Benchley, author of the 1974 novel jawswhich was later made into a blockbuster movie of the same name.

In addition to creating the world’s most famous shark, Benchley has also become an outspoken ocean conservation activist, especially for sharks. This is partly due to some regrets he expressed about his novel’s contribution to negative perceptions of sharks, and misconceptions about the danger of shark attacks.

Read the full paper in English Zenodo.

Peter Benchley, author of the novel jaws. © Chris Polk/FilmMagic for Universal Studio Home Video/Getty

Nanaria Swifty – Taylor Swift

Nanaria Swifty Named after singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. © Derek A. Hennen

The North American millipede made headlines earlier in 2022 when it was announced that it would be named after singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was one of 17 new species of millipede named in one paper by scientists, and “swiftae” was chosen because lead author Dr. Derek Henin, lead author of the study, is Swiftie (a fan of Taylor Swift). He also named the species after his wife, N. marianae“Thank you so much for all her patience when we hike in nature and stop by to look for millipedes.”

Read the full paper in English ZooKeys.

Taylor Swift performing at Saturday Night Live in November 2021. © Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Baikaliya Daftpunka – asshole bastard

Perhaps there are more and more reasons why you should bear the name of an animal. For example, this flatworm got its name when scientists realized that its collective style is somewhat similar to the helmets that Daft Punk use to conceal their identities during their performances. It is not known what the band thinks of the comparison between a headgear and a flatworm’s penis!

French music group Daft Punk during a concert in Milan in 2019. © Marco Piraccini / Archivio Marco Piraccini / Mondadori / Getty

Pristimantis gretathunbergae, Chibchea thunbergae, Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, Nelloptodes gretae And Thunberg – Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg’s frog (Pristimantis gretathunbergae). © Konrad Mebert

However, it’s probably a lot nicer when an animal gets your name because of your accomplishments. Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, has named several species after her, due to her important work in the fight against climate change. These include the rain frog (Pristimantis gretathunbergae), snail (Craspedotropis gretathunbergae), spider (Chibchea thunbergae(beetle)Nelloptodes gretaeand a whole genus of hunter spidersThunberg).

Read the full paper at Pristimantis gretathunbergae at ZooKeys.

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg examines the beetleNelloptodes gretae) in her honor at the Natural History Museum in London. © Tim Whitby/Getty

Elseya irwini And kricky steviroeni – Steve Irwin

Irwin’s turtle (Elseya irwini). © Ian Sutton. Via Flickr, used under CC by 2.0.

Occasionally, the species is named after the person who found it and a celebrity. Such is the case with Irwin’s turtle (Elseya irwini), where they are similar. Steve Irwin, the late zoo ranger, conservationist, TV personality, and his father, Bob discovered the unknown turtle while an alligator was fishing in a river.

Knowing it was unusual they took her to a turtle expert and she was later named Steve. Irwin also has a type of snail that is hilariously named after him kricky steviroeni.

Steve Irwin poses with a three-foot-tall alligator at the San Francisco Zoo in June 2002. © Justin Sullivan/Getty

Idris Elba – Idris Elba

Idris Elba (The female in the photo) is a parasitic wasp. © Elijah Talamas

Technically, this type of parasitic wasp is called Idris ElbaIdris Elba was not named. “If it was really a household name, the species nickname would have been bai,” researcher Elijah Talamas says. “The original description did not mention Idris Elba, however there are articles stating that this species is named after Idris Elba for various reasons, all of which are fabricated.”

Read the full paper in English Hymenoptera Research Journal.

English actor, producer and musician Idris Elba. © Weiss Eubanks / NBCUniversal / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty