Ten Scientific Rock Star Namesakes

Recently, scientists unveiled the Alviniconcha Strummeri to the world, an invertebrate named after Joe Strummer that lives 2000 metres beneath the surface of the ocean. “Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon,” said researcher Shannon Johnson.

But what of other discoveries named after rock pioneers? We contracted own researcher to find out more.

Aphonopelma Davemustainei “How cool is this? I got my own tarantula named after me! Totally metal!!!” tweeted Megadeth’s fiery frontman when the newly-discovered species was presented to him as a ‘gift’ from Brent E Hendrixson in 2013. Unlike Megadave, Aphonopelma tarantulas are “docile in captivity,” so it’s probably a lot easier to share a rehearsal room with one.

Jaggermeryx Naida A swamp-dwelling prehistoric African hippo from the Miocene epoch, the name translates literally as Jagger’s Water Nymph due to what palaeontologist Gregg Gunnell calls its “highly innervated muzzle with mobile and tactile lips” (for the same reason, some wanted to name it after Angelina Jolie).

Barbaturex Morrisoni A 40 million-year-old, six-foot South East Asian fossil of the longest herbivorous lizard of all time, making it something of a prehistoric ‘Lizard King’… hence its genus, inspired by the nickname of the similarly well-endowed (and equally extinct) Doors frontman.

Dendropsophus Ozzyi Sabbath-loving scientists conducting a 2009 biodiversity survey of the Brazilian Amazon thought the unusual shrill call of this smashing orangey tree frog reminded them of a bat - although Ozzy’s head-biting association with bats isn’t the most responsible example of wildlife conservation. Still, there is something oddly familiar about this mad-eyed little creature with a unique high-pitched voice.

Cirolana Mercuryi This coral reef-dwelling isopod hails from Zanzibar on the Tanzanian coast of East Africa, where Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in 1946. It’s not an especially flamboyant crustacean, give or take a few laterally inserted antennules; more fittingly stylish is the Freddie Mercury Rose, a yellow apricot bloom with pink edges first propagated in 1993.

Phialella Zappai “There is nothing I would like better than having a jellyfish with my name,” was Frank Zappa’s reply when told of the species discovered by marine researcher Ferdinand Boero as part of an elaborate plan to meet his idol. It not only worked, the two went on to become good friends. Zappa is very popular with scientists, inspiring names of genes, molluscs, spiders, fish and even the minor planet 3834 Zappafrank.

Pinkfloydia At first these tiny brown Australian spiders don’t seem to have much in common with Pink Floyd, until you notice the rounded protuberance of the cephalothorax, a feature unique among long-jawed orb-weavers. A biological one-off, the genus was so-named to honour the pioneering individuality of its English prog namesake.

Loureedia Naming a genus of underground-dwelling velvet spider after the frontman of the Velvet Underground is a no-brainer - and they’re found in Israel, an additional nod to the New York icon’s Jewish roots - but if Lou had recorded an album with these fanged arachnids it would have probably been better than Lulu.

Kalloprion Kilmisteri “Named in honour of Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, for musical inspiration during the course of this study,” explained Swedish scientist Mats E. Eriksson when he unveiled the fossilised jaw of a polychaete annelid worm that was killed by death 428 million years ago.

Kingnites Diamondi Dr Eriksson’s at it again, discovering the fossil of another 420 million-year-old marine worm jaw and naming it after a heavy metal hero, this time metal’s Greatest Dane, King Diamond. A song was even written in honour of the fossil, Deep Time Predator, featuring At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg (the King himself was too busy to appear).

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.