Skip to main content

StarStruck: Species Named After Celebrities

Bootylicious Fly

gold butt beyonce bug

(Image credit: CSIRO)

Beyoncé may be one of the biggest pop divas out there, but she isn't the only diva with that name. A previously un-named species of horse fly with a glamorous golden rear end has been named Beyoncé because it is "all time diva of flies." Beyoncé was a member of the group Destiny’s Child, which recorded the 2001 hit single, Bootylicious. The fly got its booty-ful name from its extreme diva feature: a big gold butt.

Tiny Mick Jagger

chain of trilobite fossils

(Image credit: Adrian Kin)

Named after Mick Jagger, Aegrotocatellus Jaggeri is a species of trilobite in the order Phacopida, which existed in what is now Nunavut, Canada. The image above is of a different species of Trilobite.

A naming competition

stephen colbert, beetle, birthday beetle

(Image credit: Arizona State University)

Late-night political satirist Stephen Colbert has not just one but two bugs named for him. As a birthday gift in 2009, Arizona state University researchers named a species of diving beetle Agaporomorphus Colberti, to honor Colbert. In 2007, a trapdoor spider discovered on the California coastline called Aptostichus stephencolberti. A. stepehncolberti is also closely related to A. angelinjolieae, named after the actress Angelina Jolie.

Beetles for everyone

ground beetle, carabid beetle,

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Soebe)

Also in the famous beetle category: Agra katewinsletae is a species of carabid beetle named after English actress of "Titanic" fame Kate Winslet. The researchers note that in the movie, Winslet's character "did not go down with the ship, but we will not be able to say the same for this elegant canopy species, if all the rain forest is converted to pastures."

In the same paper, he also named one species of beetle after Arnold Schwarzenegger, because of its "markedly developed (biceps-like) middle femora of the males of this species reminiscent of the actor's physique." It was collected in Costa Rica. The beetle shown is a different species of carabid, or ground, beetle.

Funny lemurs

Cleese's woolly lemur, Avahi cleesei

(Image credit: Photo courtesy of Urs Thalmann at Zurich University)

The Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei), also known as Cleese's woolly lemur, is a species of woolly lemur native to western Madagascar, named after John Cleese, of "Monty Python" fame. Cleese played a lemur-happy zookeeper in the film "Fierce Creatures" and hosted a documentary on lemurs, and is concerned with wildlife conservation.

Beetles for Beatles

Preseucoila imallshookupis

(Image credit: Matthew Buffington )

Many bands and musicians have organisms named after them, including the Ramones and the Beatles. Elvis has a species of wasp named Preseucoila imallshookupis named for Presley and his hit song "All Shook Up" by entomologist Matthew Buffington of the USDA.

Conservation crusader

harrison ford, spider,

(Image credit: American Museum Noviates, June 10, 1993, Norman Platnick)

In honor of his conservation work, Harrison ford has had two species of insect named after him. A spider discovered in 1993 by Norman Platnick of the American Museum of Natural History, was named Calponia harrisonfordi. Ford also has a species of ant named after him, Pheidole harrisonfordi, found in Honduras and Belize, and discovered by Harvard University researcher E.O Wilson.

Zanzibar's most famous

Cirolana mercuryi

Cirolana mercuryi is a species of isopod found on coral reefs off Bawe Island, (Zanzibar, Tanzania) in East Africa and named for Freddie Mercury, "arguably Zanzibar's most famous popular musician and singer".

Sting, sans stinger

Colombian tree frog was named, Hyla stingi

(Image credit: M. Kaplan, Journal of Herpetology, Mar. 1994. )

Identified and named by Moises Kaplan, of the University of Michigan, this species of Colombian tree frog was named, Hyla stingi, after the singer Sting for his work to conserve the rainforest.

Zappa mania

mudfish, frank zappa,

(Image credit: Dr. Gianluca Polgar University of Malaya,)

In the most-species-named-after-him category, Frank Zappa comes in first. He has an orb-web spider, a jellyfish, a mudfish and a long-extinct shellfish. One researcher, when Ed Murdy (now at the National Science Foundation's Office of International Science & Engineering) was asked why he named the mudfish genus Zappa, replied "This particular fish is clearly different from any other known to science, which is why the designation of a new genus was necessary. As to why I chose the name Zappa, there are three reasons: 1. I like his music 2. I liked his politics and principles 3. The name itself is a good one for scientific nomenclature."

Hugh's bunnies

hugh heffner, lower marsh keys rabit, hugh's rabbit,

(Image credit: Wikimedia commons user Tomfriedel)

What better species to name after Hugh Heffner than a bunch of bunnies? Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is a type of marsh rabbit named after the magazine mogul in 1984. Its common name is the Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit, and was named after Hefner by James Lazell, of the Conservation Agency in Rhode Island, who had financial support from the Playboy Corporation