A newly discovered species of spider has just been named after Johnny Cash. The tarantula, which you can now call Aphonopelma johnnycashi (anything but Sue), lives in the foothills of Folsom Prison in California, where Cash famously recorded a live album while playing a series of concerts for inmates in the late 1960s.
But that’s not the only reason Chris Hamilton, a biologist from the Florida Museum of Natural History, chose to name the arachnid after the country legend, famous for his funerary sartorial style. The male of the spider species is entirely black, from its eight eyes to the tip of its eight legs.
Oh, and Hamilton also has a tattoo of Cash, so it’s fair to say he’s a fan of the Man in Black.
Aphonopelma johnnycashi is one of 14 new species of tarantula recently identified in the southern United States. ‘It is a telling example of the biodiversity to be found—sometimes literally—in our own backyards,’ said Hamilton.
Cash joins an illustrious list of singers, celebrities and politicians to have arachnids, insects and other beasts named after them. Here are a few of our favourites:
A worm named after the late Motorhead star, complete with actual Lemmy-style warts along its dorsal side.
This extinct creature, whose name means Jagger’s water nymph, lived 19 million years ago in swamps around modern-day Egypt. It was described by the scientists who discovered it as a hybrid of a skinny hippo and long-legged pig, with ‘a highly innervated muzzle with mobile and tactile lips’. Mick Jagger also has a snail, Anomphalus jaggerius, named after him.
A species of horsefly named after Beyoncé because of its striking golden behind.
This beetle took its title from Arnold Schwarzenegger, because the buffed middle femora of the males are reminiscent of the actor-come-Governator’s famous biceps.
You don’t want to mess with the Angelina Jolie trapdoor spider, a nocturnal species of arthropod that leaps from its burrow, seizes prey and injects it with venom.
An Amazonian Batfrog, named after Ozzie Osbourne, and noted for its unusually high-pitched, chirpy call.
This species of Puerto Rican water mite was named after J.Lo, not because it look like her, but as ‘small token of gratitude’ for the singer’s music—which just goes to show that scientists need to get out more.
A giant, yellow, hairy Malaysian spider, named after Bowie long before the Spiders from Mars singer dropped off this mortal web.
The Elvis-inspired moniker of this gall wasp includes both the name of the King, and a references his chart-topping 1957 hit All Shook Up.
A university in Thailand named this recently discovered parasitoid wasp after Lady Gaga – which may or may not be a compliment.
And finally, this terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk (oh, OK, snail) is named in dual honour of the much-missed Aussie conservationist and his signature exclamation. Sadly, Crikey steveirwini is the only species in the genus Crikey.