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Stacy Conradt
The Quick 10: 10 Animals and Insects Named After Celebrities
by Stacy Conradt


You've probably heard that Stephen Colbert now has a beetle named after him the Agaporomorphus colberti. But Colbert is far from the only celebrity to have an animal or insect named after him. Here are 10 who beat him to the punch.

hefs1. Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is an endangered species of rabbit named after another dwindling animal who adores the act of procreating: Hugh Hefner. The Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is a type of Marsh Rabbit that lives only in swampy areas and likes to hide in thick vegetation such as grass and bushes. The subspecies name after Hefner is actually the Lower Key Marsh Rabbit, but Marsh rabbits can be found in Carolina and Florida as well. Only the Lower Key Marsh Rabbit is endangered, though.

2. Cryptocercus garciai is a species of wood roach, which is fitting because it’s named after Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. I just love a scientist with a sense of humor.

3. Phialella zappai is named after Frank Zappa simply because the guy who named that particular type of jellyfish wanted to meet Frank Zappa. Really. When Frank found out, he said, “There is nothing I would like better than having a jellyfish with my name,” and invited the scientist to spend a couple of days at his house. So, if you’ve been trying to devise a way to meet a celebrity, there you go.

fords4. Calponia harrisonfordi and Pheidole harrisonfordi. Harrison must be flattered – he has two creepy crawlies named after him. The C. harrisonfordi is a type of spider that is thought to eat other spiders, but that’s not why it was named after Mr. Solo. The man who discovered hi, arachnologist Norman I. Platnick, simply wanted to thank Ford for narrating a documentary he had filmed for the London Museum of Natural History. The Pheidole harrisonfordi is a species of ant named after Harrison to recognize his work as the Vice Chairman of Conservation International.

5. Preseucoila imallshookupis is a gall wasp. Guess who it’s named after? There’s really no resemblance to The King; reportedly the scientist who named it was just an avid fan.

6. The Strigiphilus garylarsoni has been written about on mental_floss before, but I didn’t feel right about leaving it out. It’s a type of lice only found on owls, so I’m not sure I would be particularly honored by the name. But Gary Larson sure was. The scientist who named the louse wrote to Larson and said he deserved to have a scavenging insect named after him because of his comedic contributions to science, biology and etymology. Larson responded by writing this in The Prehistory of the Far Side: “I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along.”

cleese7. Avahi cleesei is also known as the Bemaraha Woolly Lemur or Cleese’s Woolly Lemur, and I am bizarrely gleeful that John Cleese has a lemur named after him. Cleese is very active in protecting the species and educating people about their plight. One of the scientists who discovered Cleese’s Woolly Lemur said they can’t really walk, “But they do enjoy silly jumps.”

8. Rostropria garbo was named after the reclusive movie star by the same name – Greta Garbo. Because of her famous statement, “I want to be alone,” scientists thought it would be fitting to name a solitary, female wasp after her. Except Garbo once said she never uttered the famous line, at least not in a personal context (she did say it in character in the movie Grand Hotel). She contended that the quote was actually, “I want to be let alone,” and that there was an immense difference in the meaning of the two phrases.

9. Cirolana mercuryi, a species of crustacean, was named after Freddie Mercury. Why? Because the little isopod makes its home in the coral reefs off of Bawe Island, Zanzibar. As one of Zanzibar’s most famous residents, the scientists thought it would be nice to honor Mercury. Aw, I was hoping it was because the little dude had a three-octave range.

10. Struszia mccartneyi means that Paul already has a species named after him. This one is a trilobite discovered in 1993. And lest you think that other aging rockers have been left out of the joke, don’t worry – Mick Jagger, Johnny Rotten, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Ringo Starr and all of the Ramones also have trilobites named after them, and so does John Lennon.

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