5 animals you probably didn′t know are related to celebrities | High Five | DW | 04.11.2016
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High Five

5 animals you probably didn't know are related to celebrities

Tennis player Boris Becker as a nautilus; John Lennon as a tarantula. Scientific research can sometimes be tedious, but when scientists discover new animal species of animals, their imaginations sometimes go wild.

What's going on in the head of a scientist who discovers a new species of spider and names it after John Lennon? In 2005 "Bumba lennoni," a hairy tarantula, was identified as a newly discovered species. It found its way into the net of a researcher and then into biology books, bearing the name of the most popular Beatle. Why? Just because its discoverer could do so.

When biologists uncover a new plant or animal species after a long period of meticulous research, they're rewarded with the chance to select its name - as long as it follows the rules of science.

Binomial nomenclature, established by the Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, calls for a strict order in naming new species, but at the same time leaves a surprising amount of freedom. The first part of the name, written in capital letters, identifies the genus, the second part is written in lower-case and identifies the species. Beyond that, there are no limits set to the creativity of a scientist in choosing a name for their newly found species.

In 2012, an Ecuadorian dotted frog was named after Prince Charles, "Hyloscirtus princecharlesi," and a demoiselle got the name "Umma gumma," in honor of the Pink Floyd album.

These choices probably aren't entirely coincidental - since most of the discovered creatures are rather unremarkable and only reported in scientific journals. A fossil woodpecker called Mandela or a tarantula called Lennon automatically get much more attention.

Click through the gallery above for five celebrities who have a namesake in the animal kingdom. Researchers estimate that millions of undiscovered animal species still exist in the world - so maybe you could see your name in binomial nomenclature one day, too.

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