In a rare example of scientists being vaguely funny and no more than six or seven years behind the times, Australian scientists have named this gold-butted horsefly after Beyoncé. Scaptia beyonceae was first collected in 1981, the year Beyoncé was born, but the researcher who named it, Brian Lessard, isn’t even pretending this isn’t about the state of its rear end:
“It was the unique dense golden hairs on the fly’s abdomen that led me to name this fly in honour of the performer Beyoncé as well as giving me the chance to demonstrate the fun side of taxonomy – the naming of species,” he said.
Lessard is super-cute (that’s him below with a tray of Beyoncé flies) and he looks to be like 28, which maybe explains why he’s got a sense of humor and knows what a Beyoncé is. But actually, celebrity-based taxonomy is far from unprecedented. Kicking around the planet, or at least around a museum or lab somewhere, is a veritable Us Weekly of critters, including:
- Agaporomorphus colberti, a beetle with “complicated” male genitalia named after Stephen Colbert;
- Psephophorus terrypratchetti, an ancient turtle named after Terry Pratchett, who did so much for turtle visibility;
- Strigiphilus garylarsoni, a biting louse named for Gary Larson;
- Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi, and Agathidium rumsfeldi, beetles named after Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld (presumably toxic);
- Four species (two plants, a dinosaur, and an echidna) named after David Attenborough, who totally deserves it;
- And four species (mollusk, spider, jellyfish, plant) AND AN ENTIRE GENUS (of mudskippers) named after Frank Zappa. Jeez.
Get Grist in your inbox