14 Plant And Animal Species Named After Celebrities

Excellent work, taxonomists.

1. Gaga is a group of 19 fern species named after Lady Gaga.

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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.

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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.

J. C. Lendemer / Via newsroom.ucr.edu

Larry Downing / Reuters


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.

Martin Forman

Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images


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.

Jason E. Bond / Via en.wikipedia.org

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters


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.

Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images


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.

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It lives in the Philippines.

8. The fish Dawkinsia filamentosa is named after Richard Dawkins.

Manojk /

David Shankbone / Via en.wikipedia.org


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.

Matt Muir / Via eol.org

Jason Merritt / Getty Images


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.

Avahi cleesei.

Via primate-sg.org

Cleese with a different lemur.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images


11. Hyloscirtus princecharlesi is a tree frog from Ecuador named after Prince Charles.

Arcasapos / Via en.wikipedia.org

Mansi Thapliyal / Reuters


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.

Ramin Talaie / Getty Images


13. Gnathia marleyi is a parasite named after Bob Marley.

Anne Marie Coilie / Via en.wikipedia.org

Eddie Mallin / Via en.wikipedia.org


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.

CSIRO Via abc.net.au

Buda Mendes / Getty Images


The insect’s gold patch makes it the “all-time diva of flies”, apparently.

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Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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