1. Gaga is a group of 19 fern species named after Lady Gaga.
Duke University scientists were inspired after seeing Lady Gaga wear this outfit, which looks like part of a fern called the gametophyte, at the Grammy Awards in 2010.
Each species has its own name, including Gaga germanotta, named after Gaga’s family, and Gaga monstraparva, which translates to “little monster”. “We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression,” said biologist Kathleen Pryer. Read the paper.
2. Nepenthes “Helen” is a meat-eating jungle plant named after Helen Mirren.
Borneo Exotics named a new nepenthes cultivar nepenthes “Helen” during the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011.
3. The lichen Caloplaca obamae is named after Barack Obama.
Kerry Knudsen, lichen curator at the UC Riverside Herbarium, named his discovery “during the suspenseful final weeks of President Obama’s campaign for the United States presidency,” and finished the draft of his scientific paper on the day of Obama’s inauguration.
4. Loureedia annulipes is a velvet spider that pays tribute to Lou Reed.
It lives underground, of course. Gwen Pearson at Wired notes that Loureedia spiders have a suitably rock and roll lifestyle: “They decorate the roof of their underground burrow with their prey remnants, and juveniles feed on their mother’s corpse before dispersing.”
5. Aptostichus angelinajolieae is a trapdoor spider named after Angelina Jolie.
They build burrows then leap out of them, seize their prey and inject it with venom.
6. Another trapdoor spider called Aptostichus bonoi is named after Bono.
Jason Bond, the scientist who named Jolie’s spider, has form. He also named a new species he discovered in California’s Joshua Tree National Park after Bono. (Because U2’s 1987 album was called The Joshua Tree, see?).
7. Bursina borisbeckeri is a species of sea snail named after German tennis player Boris Becker.
It lives in the Philippines.
8. The fish Dawkinsia filamentosa is named after Richard Dawkins.
In fact it’s the genus (one step up from species in classification terms) Dawkinsia that’s named after Dawkins, and it contains eight other species of fish. Dawkinsia filamentosa is said to be a “swift swimmer”.
9. The rabbit Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is named after Hugh Hefner.
The real-life playboy bunny was named for Hefner after he funded research into it and other related species. Here’s the paper describing it.
10. Avahi cleesei is an endangered species of lemur named for John Cleese.
11. Hyloscirtus princecharlesi is a tree frog from Ecuador named after Prince Charles.
It was described by scientists in the journal Zootaxa, and named “in honor of Prince Charles’ conservation efforts”.
12. Eristalis gatesi is a flower fly named after Bill Gates.
13. Gnathia marleyi is a parasite named after Bob Marley.
Erm. It feeds on the blood of fish when it’s a juvenile and hides in sea sponges. “I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley’s music,” marine biologist Paul Sikkel said at the time.
14. Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae is a rare horse fly named after Beyonce.
The insect’s gold patch makes it the “all-time diva of flies”, apparently.