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What do these people have in common…and why does the answer belong in an environment magazine?

Ani Talwar talks about some well-known celebrities and reveals the environmental factor they surprisingly have in common.

Acisoma attenboroughi named in honour of Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday. Image credit: Kristof Zyskowski on Wikimedia Commons.

Bob Marley, Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyoncé, David Attenborough, and King Charles… What on earth could these five people all share? Do they all like the same movies, or jam out to the same tunes? Nope, not that I know of at least! The thing that unites all these people is something you might not have predicted for all of them: they have a species named after them!

Did you know that every year, around 24,000 new animal species are identified? And the talented scientist that identified the new species, gets to be the one to name it, which is how we’ve ended up with several species named with some rather famous names.

Named after the musical icon Bob Marley, this particular crustacean was named by Paul Sikkel, a marine biologist owing to a great ‘respect and admiration for Marley’s music’. The creature is a crustacean with the full name Gnathia marleyi, and is from the Carribbean. It is a ‘Gnathiid’, which are ‘external parasites found on coral reefs’ and were compared to mosquitoes in a quote from Reuters, mentioned in an article in the Smithsonian.

Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor, but did you know he also had a tree named after him? On 11th January 2022, it was reported by the Natural History Museum that the tree Uvariopsis dicaprio had been named after the actor following his work to expose the dangers that species in the Ebo forest face.

The Ebo Wildlife Reserve in Cameroon is the only home to this particular tree species, and the media coverage that Leonardo DiCaprio drew to the logging concessions placed on the forest are partly credited with helping to revoke logging licences in the area a month later.

The Uvariopsis dicaprio with cauliflorous inflorescences on its trunk. Image credit: Lorna McKinnon on Wikimedia Commons.

The Scaptia beyonceae is a type of horsefly, named after the famous singer (if you hadn’t guessed it!) Beyoncé. Found in Queensland Australia, the fly was collected in 1981, which is the same year Beyoncé was born. The entomologist Brian Lessard, who named it after Beyoncé, noted that it had golden hair, similar to Beyoncé’s, which contributed to the naming decision.

Sir David Attenborough may already be well known in the environment community and beyond, not least for his riveting documentary series’, but he also has another set of claims to his name with multiple species being named after him. According to Discover Wildlife, there are over 40 species named after Sir David Attenborough, including a dragonfly that was named to commemorate his 90th birthday, the butterfly Euptychia attenborough and a 190 million year old dinosaur.

The Euptychia Attenborough butterfly male dorsal (left), ventral (right). Image Credit: Neild et al., on Wikimedia Commons.

The dinosaur in question was first unearthed in 1880, but it was destroyed 60 years later during World War II and so if you visit the Natural History Museum, there is a plaster cast version of the skeleton you can see.

Named when he was Prince Charles, the Hyloscirtus princecharlesi is a tree frog that was named in 2012. Named to credit King Charles’ work in protecting their rainforest habitat, the frog was first discovered in a museum in 2008, and then later in the Ecuador National Park when an expedition was carried out to see if they are still present in nature. According to the Reptile Magazine, King Charles even received a glass version of the frog to honour the event.

The Imbabura Tree Frog (Boana picturata), pictured in Ecuador. Image credit: Michael Bakker Paiva on Wikimedia Commons.

And so, despite being well known for a multitude of different things across many years, these famous names have gone down in scientific history for a common factor: they have a species named after them. If you’re interested in researching, there are several other fascinating species named after other well-known names, and all sorts of stories behind these decisions to read up on.

About the author: Ani Talwar is a recent graduate of Environmental Sciences, who enjoyed being part of the Wild editing and managing team whilst at university. She writes novels in her spare time, and can be found lost in a story, or hiking through nature.

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