- An eponym is a scientific species name that comes from a real or fictional person.
- Scientists have named many species after celebrities.
- They either want to honor the person, bring attention to the species, or both.
When a scientist names a newly described species, there are certain rules they have to follow. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get creative.
When choosing a two-word scientific name, researchers have long drawn inspiration from everything from myths to music to literature.
Naming a species for a celebrity can be controversial. Some scientists worry that naming a species after a famous person will lead to nomenclatural regret. The honoree might fade from the spotlight or tarnish their legacy. But they’ll forever be linked to that insect, plant, or mammal.
Scientists in favor of the practice may simply want to create an ode to their favorite band. Others are trying to generate some buzz around a vulnerable species.
Here are 12 species, from lichens to spiders, and their eponymous celebrities.