15 Creepy-Crawlies Named After Pop Culture Icons
If you discover a species you get to name it. That’s pretty exciting — most people don’t discover a huge quantity of species in their lives, so they put real thought into it, coming up with artfully descriptive Latin terms. (You don’t get to choose all of it btw — the way scientific names work is, the first part is the generic name pointing out what genus the species is in, and the second part is the specific name, which is where you get to go for it.)
While plenty of scientists go for something descriptive, or reference something else about the species like where it was discovered or its size relative to similar species, some take it as an opportunity to celebrate their pop-culture heroes.
There are a lot of metalheads in science, and what better way for them to combine their twin passions than naming a new species after the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails? That’s how Actinopus reznori got its name, in the same bout of taxonomic revision by Brazilian team Miglio, Pérez-Miles and Bonaldo that led to Actinopus anselmoi (after Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo) and Actinopus cornelli (after Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave). There’s even a spider called Gollobofio megadeth. That’s awesome.
If not celebrating their love of metal in faux-Latin form, a scientist might opt to name a species after a celebrity as a bit of a joke about a perceived shared trait, an earnest tribute to a pop-culture hero, a just-for-the-hell-of-it move or, like, a way of maybe getting a nice email from Shakira one day…