10 Animals Named After Famous People

On June 27, 2015 by Tim Newman

When I started writing this I wasn’t sure whether there would be enough examples of organisms named after famous people to fill an article. I was totally wrong. There are more animals named after famous people than you could shake a stick insect at.


1) Angelina Jolie / Aptostichus angelinajolieae

Animal Named After Famous People - Angelina Jolie Aptostichus angelinajolieae

The Angelina Jolie trapdoor spider kills its prey by leaping from hidden burrows and injecting them with poison. Just like its namesake… I jest of course, there are no recorded sightings of the human Jolie hiding in burrows (although her venom has been variously noted).

Aptostichus angelinajolieae was first described by Professor Jason Bond in 2008, he named it after Angelina in recognition of her work on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Fair enough.

2) Bob Marley / Gnathia marleyi

Animal Named After Famous People - Bob Marley Gnathia marleyi

Gnathia marleyi is a parasitic crustacean resident only in the Caribbean Sea. It infests fish and feeds off their succulent cool blood.

The species is relatively common in the Caribbean but nowhere else, so it wasn’t described by science until Paul Sikkel sent a specimen to a South African research team in 2002.

Sikkel decided to name it after Bob Marley because of his “respect and admiration” for his music and because the species is “uniquely Caribbean as was Marley”.

One love.

3) Barack Obama / Aptostichus barackobamai

Animal Named After Famous People - Barack Obama Aptostichus barackobamai

In 2012 the same Professor Bond of Angelina Jolie fame named another trapdoor spider after an American icon. Not sure why. I wonder how Barry feels about itAptostichus barackobamai isn’t exactly attractive.

4) Jennifer Lopez / Litarachna lopezae

Animal Named After Famous People - Jenny Lopez Litarachna lopezae

Lucky Lopez got a new species of mite named after her – Litarachna lopezae. She must be made up! This tiny new species of pontarachnid mite hangs about around 70 metres below the waves in Bajo de Sico.

Dr Pešić one of the researchers explains…

The reason behind the unusual choice of name for the new species is that Jennifer Lopez’s songs and videos kept the team in a continuous good mood when writing the manuscript and watching World Cup Soccer 2014.

Nothing to do with that swollen rear end like you were thinking. Tut.

5) Shakira / Aleiodes shakirae

Animal Named After Famous People - Shakira Aleiodes shakirae

Aleiodes shakirae was named after one of Colombia’s most over rated vocalists – Shakira. Sorry, I don’t mean to be mean, I’m sure she’s a lovely person and an excellent singer, but Aleiodes shakirae is more interesting than her.

Aleiodes shakirae is a parasitic wasp, it lays its eggs inside a specific type of caterpillar. As the larvae hatch they eat the caterpillar from the inside out, slowly turning the host caterpillar into a mummified husk.

Dr. Shimbori and Dr. Shaw, who discovered the wasp, thought that the grooving and convulsing of the caterpillar as it died was reminiscent of Shakira’s dance moves.

I’m sure Shakira was flattered indeed.

6) Lou Reed / Loureedia

Animal Named After Famous People - Lou Reed Loureedia

Lou Reed of the legendary Velvet Underground gets a whole genus named after him. Loureedia is a genus of araneomorph spiders in the family Eresidae, but the genus only contains a single species – Loureedia annulipes.

So where did the name came from? Well, the spider lives underground and is classed as a velvet spider. You can work it out from there I reckon.

7) Hitler / Anophthalmus hitleri

Animal Named After Famous People - Hitler Anophthalmus hitleri

Anophthalmus hitleri is a very rare beetle indeed. It is blind and so far has only been found in five humid caves in Slovenia.

As for the slightly controversial name, it wasn’t always so controversial. The name roughly means “the eyeless one of Hitler”, it was coined by the beetle’s discoverer Oscar Scheibel in 1933. Oscar named it after Hitler who had just become the Chancellor of Germany; I guess he hadn’t shown his true colours by then. Apparently Hitler even sent a thank you note to Scheibel. He was a sweetheart really.

The beetle, as I mentioned, is incredibly rare. It looks pretty uneventful as you can see but it is constantly poached by Hiter memorabilia nutcases.

8) Mark Knopfler / Masiakasaurus knopfleri

Animal Named After Famous People - Mark Knopfler Masiakasaurus knopfleri

Mark Knopfler gets a dinosaur named after him the lucky git. Masiakasaurus knopfleri was coined simply because his music inspired the research team.

Masiakasaurus lived around 70 million years ago and is notable because his front teeth shot out straight forwards instead of going down like normal animals. Paleontologists assume there was something about their specialised diet that made this useful but they are unsure as to what that might have been. One theory is that it helped them spear fish, like he’s doing up top.

9) Bill Gates / Eristalis gatesi

Animal Named After Famous People - Bill Gates Eristalis gatesi

That’s right, Bill Gates has a flower fly named after him the lucky devil. It’s called Eristalis gatesi. His associate – Paul Allen – also got a name check for a similar species – Eristalis alleni. According to Chris Thompson, the describer of these species, both names were in…

…recognition of [their] great contributions to the science of Dipterology

Before you Google it, Dipterology is the branch of entomology that studies the order of insects Diptera, which includes houseflies, mosquitoes, and gnats. I had no idea Gates was involved, did you?

10) Noam Chomsky / Megachile chomskyi

Animal Named After Famous People - Noam Chomsky Megachile chomskyi

Megachile chomskyi is solitary leafcutter bee. This specific species is only found in Texas. It is particularly fussy as to the types of pollen it likes to consume, and has a strikingly long tongue and mandibles.

It appears to have been named after Noam Chomsky just to celebrate his illustrious career in the linguistic sciences. The species’ discoverer Dr Cory Sheffield said the following:

In addition to naming the species after Dr. Chomsky to honour his many accomplishments, I also have been a huge fan and follower of his writings, lectures, and political views for a long time.

This isn’t the first time Noam Chomsky has had animal based recognition either. Linguistic researchers at Columbia University named their chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky. See what they did there?

So there we go, there’s your 10 animals named after famous people. I think the only thing I’ve really learned today is that scientists like mucking about as much as the next man. But I sort of already knew that.





@media all and (max-width: 228px) { div#darkbackground, div.visiblebox { display: none; } }