Familar Names, Unfamiliar Faces


Bob Marley and Beyonce you may think you know their names and faces but if I was to tell you that Bob Marley is actually a crustacean parasite and Beyonce is a specie of horsefly, you might not believe me. These are in fact the real scientific names for flora and fauna around the world. In this article we examine just a small number of the vast list of famous names with unfamiliar faces.

Naming anything is difficult be it a car or a pet. You want something not too common but not something no one can pronounce. So imagine the dilemma scientist have when they discover a new species. Yes some use logical names by explaining it relative to another species, for example the Repenomamus giganticus was the largest mammal dinosaur hence giganticus.

Some scientists name species to honour someone, for example the John Cleese Lemur a tribute to his nature conservation work and the royal family have countless flowers named after them. Others however want a name that stands out and which people can look at and easily identify for example Beyonce the specie of horsefly is named so because of its golden hairs found on its’ abdomen, which apparently reminded the scientist of Beyonce herself.


john cleese and lemur








Scientists at the NOC discovered a new crab specie at hydrothermal vents in Antarctica. When thinking of names a PhD suggested it looked a bit like the Hoff and ever since this crab was nicknamed the “Hoff crab” because of its’ hairy chest.


The Bob Marley crustacean parasite was only discovered this summer and it feeds on the blood of coral reef fish in the Caribbean.  The man who discovered it – Paul Sikkel said it was “truly a natural wonder”, and it was named after Marley because “of my respect and admiration for Marley’s music”.

Bob marley

Obama has a lichen named after him this slow growing specie grows on soil and almost became extinct during the days of cattle ranching on Santa Rosa Island. The scientist said it was named after President Obama “to show my appreciation for the president’s support of science and science education. The lichen is symbolic as they are at the base of most ecosystems and are important to biodiversity, in the same way funding and education are fundamental to science.”


Hugh Hefner’s specie is perhaps the most aptly named. The Hugh Hefner Marsh Rabbit is an endangered rabbit found in the Florida Keys and requires a permanent source of water. Hugh Hefner and the Playboy organisation has donated money to help protect these nocturnal animals to help them from extinction caused by pollution, loss of habitat and accidental death from cars and cats.

hugh-hefner ws

So there you have it some scientists do have a sense of humour. You really can find a new specie and call it anything you like, providing someone else hasn’t already taken that name. So next time you hear a famous name remember it might not be referring to a human but its flora or fauna namesake.


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