“This has to be the weirdest thing that’s ever been named after me!”: Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi presented with sculpture of 469 million-year-old fossil named in his honour

Mats Eriksson, Tony Iommi and Esben Horn
Mats Eriksson, Tony Iommi and Esben Horn (Image credit: Dyson Media)

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has been presented with a life-sized sculpture of a prehistoric fossil named after him.

Back in 2021, palaeontologist and heavy metal fan Mats Eriksson discovered the 469 million-year-old fossil of an eel-like marine vertebrate in Russia – and had no hesitation in naming the new species Drepanoistodus Iommii after his favourite guitarist.

And this week Eriksson was invited to Velvet Music Rooms in Birmingham, from his home in Sweden, to present Tony with a life-sized model of the fossil, created by sculptor Esben Horn. 

“When I first heard about this, it was a real shock to hear that a fossil’s been named after me!” Iommi admits. “I’ve had a bit of abuse from my friends about it who’ve enjoyed calling me an old fossil, but I think it’s great, a real honour.

“This has to be the weirdest thing that’s ever been named after me but I’m really proud of it and I wanted to thank Mats and his team in person for being such brilliant fans. It was great to meet Mats and Esben today and receive an amazing replica of the Iommi fossil.”

Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, arranged the presentation for the rock star, who is featured on the nearby Black Sabbath bench, which has become a major tourist attraction in the city.

Mike Olley says, “I’m delighted we were able to set up a meeting between Tony, Mats and Esben, and present Tony with the model of the fossil named after him.

“Tony is one of Birmingham’s greatest rock heroes and this is a fantastic gesture by Mats, and Esben, to honour him in this way. He is now officially an old fossil!”

Mats Eriksso has also named fossils after Lemmy, Cannibal Corpse's Alex Webster and King Diamond. Other fossils have been named in honour of Gojira, Rotting Christ, Deep Purple's Ian Paice and Meshuggah's Tomas Haake.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.