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us taxonomy science star wars hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy animals

12 silliest scientific names for actual living things

Scientific classification doesn’t have to be boring. Scientists are people and people are weird and make jokes. Here are some of our favourite taxonomic curiosities.

1. The horsefly named after Beyoncé

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Scientists say that Scaptia beyonce has a “large golden bottom”. We don’t see the connection.

2. The animals named just to make a pun

In 2002, Neal Evenhuis named a bunch of flies, including Pieza rhea, Pieza pi, and Pieza kake. Apparently, you accidentally swallow up to eight of these flies a year.

3. The sly slap at Angelina Jolie

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Why would somebody name an ambush-hunting spider after Angelina Jolie (Aptostichus angelinajolieae)? Aha - the biologists were on Team Jennifer Aniston. Come on guys, that was 2005, let it go!

4. The ones named for more puns

There are a couple of flies named Heerz lukenatcha and Heerz tooya.

5. The world’s shortest species name

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Meet Ia io, the Great Evening Bat. If you want a great evening, now you know which bat to call. But how would you get a bat’s attention?

6. The world’s longest species name

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Bracyurupuskkyodermatogammarus greivlingwmnemnotus is a brine shrimp from a lake in Russia. Pictured actual size.

7. The ones making a political point

Here are some species of slime mould beetles in the Agathidium genus: There’s Agathidium bushi - George W Bush; Agathidium cheneyi - Dick Cheney; Agathidium rumsfeldi - Donald Rumsfeld; Agathidium vaderi - Darth Vader.

Are you reading that the same way we are?

8. The ones named for Star Wars

There’s an entire genus of mites named Darthvaderum. There’s even a wasp named Polemistus chewbacca.

Pictured: Darth Vader finds out that he’s infested with tiny arthropods.

9. The ones named for Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy

A fish called Fiordichthys slartibartfasti, the fish known as Bidenichthys beeblebroxi and a fungus moth, Erechthias beeblebroxi.

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So it turns out that scientists are massive nerds - who would have guessed?

10. The Elvis wasp

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Preseucoila imallshookupis. No, but seriously: this is the only picture of the wasp that we could find. Tell us somebody hasn’t Photoshopped on that Elvis hair.

11. The neotropical spider Apopyllus now

Holy crap. We dearly wish we hadn’t just made that picture.

12. The guy who has all the animals named after him

An incredible advocate of conservation efforts and protecting biodiversity, he’s known as an ambassador and spokesperson for nature. That man is living legend, Sir David Attenborough.

In no particular order: Sir David’s Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi); a lovely, pretty, delicate flower (Blakea attenoroughii); Nepenthes attenboroughii, the rat-eating plant (warning: do not google); and an entire genus of plesiosaurs named Attenborosaurus. Marvellous!

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Species compiled by @Harrison_Peter.