Monday, May 12, 2008


There are many awards and accolades to which a musician might aspire. Some of the biggest are Record of the Year, Album of the Year; or maybe a Knightship (is that what it’s called or did I just make that up?), or entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wonderful recognition to be sure, but it all must pale (and I am not being facetious here) to having another living creature bear your name for all eternity. Even if the species goes extinct (good chance, I imagine) it’s still all yours. That is the case with long-time rocker, Neil Young, and a recently discovered new species of trapdoor spider.

The combination is the handiwork of Jason Bond, a biologist from East Carolina University. East? I thought there were only North and South. Oh well never mind, at least we know that Carolina is named after King Charles I, which is a category of fame and immortality by itself. So, Bond (who is also a big-time Neil fan) discovered the spider was a separate species of trapdoor spider (yeah, they all look alike to me, too) by testing its DNA, and also by checking out its, um, genitalia. Apparently, that’s the best way to tell male spiders apart (don’t go there!) Once he was sure he had something previously unnamed, Bond realized he had the honor of giving it the name it will have whenever people look up that particular species of trapdoor spider (I think Knightship is correct). Now, if you ever have a similar naming opportunity, please don’t forget that you have to do it in Latin. Thus the new spider is called "Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi."

Before you start thinking that this is an unprecedented crossover between two vastly different disciplines, I’m sorry to put a pin in your balloon, but it isn’t the first time. Somewhere in the world there’s a species of whirligig beetle, discovered earlier this year, that bears the name "Orectochilus orbisonorum." Who knows what will be discovered next as art and science link arms and dive into the mosh pit of the future.

Photo of M. neilyoungi from ECU News services. And thanks for Christine at Quiet Paths blog for the tip!


Quiet Paths said...

I bet Neil is totally grooving on this! For myself I wouldn't mind if a fern or something plant-ish were named after me because spiders kinda' creep me out even though I know they are "good" spiders. Great post!

Deborah Godin said...

I agree, spiders are my least favorite critter. Unfortunately, here on the shore of the Lake they are extravagantly prolific! Of course, one can look on the bright side - we don't need to spend any money decorating for Halloween - and we're always ready...