10 New Species Named After Pop Icons

1Euglossa bazinga, named after Big Bang Theory character Sheldon Cooper's favorite word

In 2013, Big Bang Theory physicist Sheldon Cooper’s favorite buzzword had a new claim to fame. The geeky TV character had a species of bee named after his favorite catch phrase – Bazinga!

On the TV show, Cooper, who counts Stephen Hawking as his online friend, uses the word to signal that he’s just pulled a practical joke on somebody else.

Brazilian biologist Andre Nemesio said he named the species of Brazilian orchid bee Euglossa bazinga in honor of “the clever, funny, nerdy character Sheldon Cooper,” because the bee had tricked scientists for some time with its similarity to other species.


2Dendropsophus ozzyi, a newly discover frog named after Ozzy Osbourne

“As soon as I heard its call, I knew it was a new species. I had never heard anything like it,” Pedro Peloso, a doctoral student at the American Museum of Natural History, said of his new finding.

Peloso discovered the frog while researching amphibians in the Brazilian Amazon. National Geographic says that the Dendropsophus ozzyi has a very large vocal sac that produces an unusual sound to summon females.

That mating call is reminiscent of a bat. During a concert in 1982, Ozzy Osbourne bit off the head of a live bat while on stage. This incident inspired Peloso and his colleagues to name the frog in his honor.


3Aleiodes shakirae, the new wasp species named after pop icon Shakira for its dance inducing larvae

Colombian singer Shakira’s belly dancing moves are so awesome, they’re the reason why a new species of parasitic wasp was named after her. Aleiodes shakirae causes its host caterpillar to shake and wiggle like there’s no tomorrow.

A. shakirae was one of 24 new species of Aleiodes wasps discovered by Dr. Eduardo Shimbori and Dr. Scott Shaw in the eastern Andes mountains of Ecuador.

Aleiodes are very small wasps—only 4 to 9 millimeters long—that belong to a unique subfamily of wasps that mummify the caterpillars they feed on.

The doctors named the wasp after the famous, hip-wiggling singer after they found that the wasp causes its host caterpillar to bend and twist in different ways as it dies, which reminds them of Shakira’s dance moves.


4Agra schwarzeneggeri, the beetle with developed "biceps" like Arnold Schwarzenegger

Agra schwarzeneggeri, discovered in 2002 by Erwin, is a species of carabid beetle named after the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in reference to the markedly developed (biceps-like) middle femora of the males of this species that are reminiscent of the actor’s physique. The holotype was collected in Costa Rica and first described to science in 2002.


5Bumba lennoni, named after John Lennon, helped “to make this world a gentler place”

It’s the perfect stereotype: an entomologist who can’t get enough of the Beatles.

Although naming a beetle after said favorite band would have been the ideal scenario, discovering a new species is not exactly an everyday occurrence, so scientist Fernando Pérez-Miles decided not to miss out on a rare opportunity. He named a previously unknown tarantula after one of his idols – John Lennon.

The tarantula, Bumba lennoni, was discovered in a national forest in Pará, Brazil. It’s a member of the Theraphosidae family which includes the largest spider species in the world: the Goliath birdeater. However, this species doesn’t quite measure up to its dinner-plate-sized relative – it has a body size of only 1.3 inches.

The genus name, Bumba, was inspired by a popular Brazilian festival called Boi-bumbá (hit my bull), which replacedthe previous name, Maraca. According to the team, lennoni was chosen because John Lennon helped “to make this world a gentler place.”


6Jaggermeryx naida, a fossilized big-lipped hippo named after aging rocker

Sir Mick Jagger may be one of the most famous musicians on the planet, but now there’s a new rock star that has been named in honor of him – a fossil of an extinct swamp-dwelling creature that lived 19 million years ago in Africa.

The hippo-like creature has been given its name because, like the Rolling Stones’ front man, it too has super-sized lips.

Researchers uncovered the fossils, consisting of multiple jawbone fragments, amid the sand dunes and eroded rock of a remote site in the Egyptian desert.

Jaggermeryx, which translates to “Jagger’s water nymph,” is one of six species of anthracotheres found at the site, but what distinguished it from other members of this family was a series of tiny holes on either side of its jaw that held the nerves providing sensation to the chin and lower lip.


7Yoda purpurata, named because of its resemblance to the Jedi Master

In 2012 researchers named a new species Yoda purpurata, due to the resemblance of Yoda’s ears to the deep sea worms lips,

Yoda purpurata, along with three other new acorn worms species, was discovered 1.5 miles under the Atlantic Ocean during a recent survey of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. All of the species were discovered on or just slightly above the seafloor, photographed, and then collected by an underwater ROV for later description. The new species are described in the latest issue of Invertebrate Biology.

Yoda purpurata was named by Nick Holland, the world authority on enteropneusts, due to its resemblance to Jedi Master Yoda. However the large appendages are not ears – they are lips.


8Aegista diversifamilia, named after same-sex marriage

Scientists have named new species after celebrities, fictional characters, but a new snail may be the first to be named after a global human rights movement: the on-going struggle for same-sex marriage. Scientists have named the new Taiwanese land snail, Aegista diversifamilia, meaning diverse human families.

“When we were preparing the manuscript it was a period when Taiwan and many other countries and states were struggling for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights. It reminded us that Pulmonata land snails are hermaphrodite animals, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs in single individual,” explained co-author Yen-Chang Lee. “They represent the diversity of sex orientation in the animal kingdom. We decided that maybe this is a good occasion to name the snail to remember the struggle for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights.”

Same sex marriage is currently not legal in Taiwan, and a bill in the government proposing to legalize same-sex marriage has been stalled by the Parliament’s judiciary committee since October 2013. A recent rally in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the country attracted thousands.


9Ampulex dementor, the 'soul-sucking' wasp species named after 'Harry Potter' Dementors

A newly discovered species of wasp in Southeast Asia that sucks the life out of cockroaches was appropriately named after the terrifying dementors from J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.

Ampulex dementor was so named as “an allusion to the wasps’ behavior to selectively paralyze its cockroach prey,” according to the report published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The Natural History Museum in Berlin let the public vote on a name for the wasp, known for its ability to turn cockroaches into zombies with one sting. The fictional, shadowy prison guards of Azkaban that are dementors, likewise, also literally suck the life out of their prey – only they use a kiss of death.

Native to Thailand, A. dementor has bright red and black coloring, and is one of over 200 species of wasp which reproduces using a host incubator – in the wasp’s case, it uses the cockroach.


10Eoperipatus totoros, the velvet worm named for Totoro

Velvet worms are adorable caterpillar-y looking things, silently plodding along on stumpy legs in tropical forests around the world. A recently discovered species was so cute, it got a name straight out of Studio Ghibli: Eoperipatus totoros. The species name is an homage to the CatBus in the film My Neighbor Totoro.

Velvet worms are curious slime-spewing enigmas. They are off on their own odd branch of the tree of crawly things called Onychophora. Not worms, not insects, millipedes, centipedes, or slugs. Genetic data suggests that velvet worms are a sister group to insects; that is, they are descended from a common ancestor, but not from each other.


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