LITTLE MONSTERS Fern Named After Lady Gaga, Beyoncé’s Horsefly, and More Species Named After Celebrities
We’re all born superstars—even fauna? Researchers at Duke University certainly think so: they named 19 new species under the genus ‘Gaga’ after the pop singer. From a horse fly named after Beyoncé to a bunny named after Hugh Hefner, see other celebrities who have some wild namesakes.
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Australian researchers have dubbed a recently discovered horsefly with a golden backside the "Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae" after the "Single Ladies" soulstress—and earlier this month, scientists named a new species of crab with a hairy chest “The Hoff” after David Hasselhoff. See more wild things named after stars, from the Angelina beetle to the Hugh Hefner bunny.
Michael Caulfield, WireImage / Getty Images Lady Gaga
Global pop star, fashion icon, activist, and plant namesake? Seems like Duke University botanists have gone gaga for Lady Gaga. The botanists have named
19 new species of fern after the pop singer with the genus Gaga, acknowledging the singer’s “fervent defense of equality and individual expression.” Seventeen of the fauna are being reclassified from the Cheilanthes, Gaga picked up two new discoveries under her moniker: Gaga germanotta, the singer’s last name, and Gaga monstraparva, a shout-out to Gaga’s little monsters, have "fluid definitions of gender” and include GAGA in their DNA base pairs. Researchers said they were inspired by Gaga’s green Armani Primé get-up at the 2010 Grammy Awards, which reminded them of the ferns' bisexual reproductive stage. Her music, too, served as an inspiration: they listen while doing their research. But those are not the only species Gaga has to her name: University of Thailand scientists named a parasitic wasp, Aleiodes gaga, for the singer in September. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images; Bryan Lessard, AFP / Getty Images (inset) Beyoncé Knowles
Honor or insult? Researchers in Australia
named a horsefly after the pop diva this month, because it boasts golden hair on its derriere—or, in insect terms, its abdomen. The full name of the insect is Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae, though it’s colloquially known as the “gold bum fly.” Aside from fabulous rear ends, the insect and the singer share an important date. The fly was discovered the same year Beyoncé was born—1981—but scientists didn't confirm it as a new species until now.
Chris Pizzello / AP Photo David Hasselhoff Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Kate Winslet
Leonardo DiCaprio may have been “king of the world” on the Titanic, but he never had a ground beetle named after him as Kate Winslet did. “Her character did not go down with the ship,” the scientific paper for
Agra katewinsletae noted, “but we will not be able to say the same for this elegant canopy species, if all the rain forest is converted to pastures.” Stephen Colbert
Comedian Stephen Colbert has had many things named for him over the years—including a bridge in Hungary, a flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and a treadmill on a NASA space station—and in 2009 he added a Venezuelan beetle to that list,
Agaporomorphus colberti. “Last year, Stephen shamelessly asked the science community to name something cooler than a spider to honor him,” said entomologist Quentin Wheeler of Arizona State University. “His top choices were a giant ant or a laser lion. While those would be cool species to discover, our research involves beetles, and they are ‘way cooler’ than a spider any day.”
The president’s approval rating may be low, but he’s big in the lichen world. In 2009 Kerry Knudsen, a scientist at the University of California, Riverside Herbarium, named a species he discovered after Barack Obama “in appreciation for the president's support of science and science education.” As
Knudsen explained: “I made the final collections of Caloplaca obamae during the suspenseful final weeks of President Obama’s campaign for the United States presidency.” Jason Merritt / Getty Images Angelina Jolie
Charlotte would have lost a lot of flies in her web had the trapdoor spider named after Angelina Jolie been discovered back in her day. Found in Northern California, the
Aptostichus angelinajolieae is similar to the arachnid named after Stephen Colbert, the Aptostichus stephencolberti, but it may want to watch its back. In 2010 after having scenes with a spider in the movie Salt, Jolie admitted: “I do like spiders, bugs, and all that. I am not squeamish. I have eaten some in my days in Cambodia so I don’t have a problem. But I didn’t eat this one.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
First discovered in Costa Rica in 2002, the
Agra schwarzeneggeri is a carabid beetle named after Arnold Schwarzenegger because of the male species’ bulky arms. And coming soon to a theater near you— Agra schwarzeneggeri in The Exterminator.
Though his professional moniker would suggest honoring Sting with an insect, the singer actually had a Colombian tree frog named after him in 1994—
Hyla stingi—in recognition of his work preserving the rain forest. Mark Wilson / Getty Images Bill Gates
Make sure that next version of Windows comes with extra screens to keep out the
Eristalis gates, a Costa Rican flower fly named after Bill Gates. A similar flower fly was named after Gates’s longtime Microsoft partner Paul Allen.
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images Hugh Hefner
Given all High Hefner has done to promote bunnies, it’s only fitting that scientists named a rabbit after him. And like the 85-year-old Playboy founder, the
Sylvilagus palustris hefneri (commonly known as the Lower Keys marsh rabbit) is an endangered species. Elvis Presley
He once sang “I Got Stung” so it’s only appropriate that Elvis Presley has a gall wasp named for him. In 2004 entomologist Michael Buffington chose a genus and species name in honor of the King and one of his most famous songs—
One of the great movie villains of all time, Darth Vader, has a slime beetle named for him. But the
Agathidium vaderi is not a judgment on the Sith Lord’s character, rather it’s in honor of the beetle’s shiny head and similarly shaped eyes. Still, it does look like the bug has gone over to the dark side.