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Celebrity species: from the DiCaprio water beetle to Obama spiders | Technology

Celebrity species: from the DiCaprio water beetle to Obama spiders | Technology


Leonardo DiCaprio

A new species of water beetle, discovered by scientists in Borneo, has been named after the Oscar-winning star of The Revenant. With its partially retractable head and slightly protruding eyes, Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi was not named for its resemblance to the 43-year-old actor and environmentalist but because the scientists “wanted to highlight that even the smallest creature is important”.




Captia beyonceae. Photograph: Bryan Lessard/CSIRO

Beyoncé

“It was the unique dense golden hairs on the fly’s abdomen that led me to name this fly in honour of the performer,” said Australian scientist Bryan Lessard upon the naming of Scaptia beyonceae, a rare species of horse fly found in Queensland. Australia’s science agency CSIRO contacted Beyoncé but, unsurprisingly, never heard back.

John Cleese and a woolly lemur.



Mad about Madagascar: John Cleese and a woolly lemur.

John Cleese

The Monty Python actor, on the other hand, was thrilled to have a woolly lemur named after him by a team of scientists from Zurich University in 2005. “I’m absurdly fond of the little creatures,” said Cleese, who made a documentary about lemurs in Madagascar in 1998, and now lives on there in name at least in the Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei).

Barack Obama receives a photograph of the Tosanoides obama reef fish from ocean explorer Sylvia Earle last year.



Scales for the chief: Barack Obama receives a photograph of the Tosanoides obama reef fish from ocean explorer Sylvia Earle last year. Photograph: Brian Skerry/National Geographic

Barack Obama

A dozen species have been named after the 44th US president, including a species of lichen, two spiders, a Cuban bee, an extinct lizard and – most picturesque of all – a coral reef fish that goes by the name Tosanoides obama and can be found swimming around the Papahānaumokuākea marine national monument in Obama’s native Hawaii.

Agra katewinsletae.


Agra katewinsletae. Photograph: Karolyn Darrow/Courtesy of National Museum of Natural History

Kate Winslet

DiCaprio’s co-star in Titanic has also had a beetle named after her, though some 11,000 miles of ocean divides the two species. Agra katewinsletae was discovered in Costa Rica by entomologist Terry Erwin, who explained: “Her character did not go down with the ship, but we will not be able to say the same for this elegant canopy species if all the rainforest is converted to pastures.”



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