Brazilian Biologist Names Spider Species After Rockers Including Def Leppard

Scientists Cristina Rheims has also named South American arachnids after Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Angra.

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Photo: Courtesy of the artist

A member of Sao Paulo’s biological research centre Instituto Butantan has named four new species of spider after her favourite rock stars. Cristina Rheims, who has named more than 200 species of spider in the past, has decided to honour her musical heroes from Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Scorpions and Brazil’s Angra – and has created the new genus ‘Extraordinarius’ in the process.

The four spiders from the Sparianthinae family, which are found from southern Mexico to Argentina, are now called Extraordinarius bruceickinsoni, after Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, Extraordinarius rickalleni after Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, Extraordinarius klausmeinei after Scorpions singer Klaus Meine and Extraordinarius andrematosi after late Angra vocalist André Matos. The spiders are nocturnal arachnids grow to 2cm and are not dangerous to humans.

Rheims tells PRI: “This is the kind of music I like and I usually listen to. I’ve always wanted to honour Rick Allen because I think he’s an example.

“You have a drummer that loses an arm and he continues his career and he learns how to play with only one arm. So he’s one of the ‘Extraordinarius’ as well.”

Rheims also reports that Scorpions frontman Meine was delighted at the news and requested an official certificate, which she created and signed. Rheims says: “I like to joke that now he has my autograph!”

This is not not the first time creatures from the past and present have been named after rock stars. A species of pistol shrimp are named after Pink Floyd, a half-metre worm that lived 420 million years ago is named after King Diamond; Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster has an extinct monster worm honoured in his name and a Jusrassic crocodile fossil is named after late Motorhead legend Lemmy. There’s also trio of microbes found in the guts of termites named after Rush due to their “long hair” and “rhythmic wriggling”.

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