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Are Many Species Named for Famous People?

Animal species are often named for scientists, but they are not the only people who have been honored that way. Some animal species are named for celebrities. A good example is actor Harrison Ford, who was the inspiration for the scientific names of a spider, Calponia harrisonfordi, and an ant, Pheidole harrisonfordi.

More facts about famous people and species names:

  • Musician Frank Zappa was the inspiration for the scientific names of three different species. The jellyfish known as Phialella zappai, a spider named Pachygnatha zappa and a genus of fish that is known simply as Zappa are all named for him.

  • Political figures also provide inspiration for naming species. The Agathidium bushi beetle is named for former United States President George W. Bush, and the Agathidium cheneyi beetle is named for Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney.

  • Comedian and actor John Cleese was the inspiration for the Avahi cleesei, a woolly lemur that is native to Madagascar. It is popularly known as Cleese’s lemur, in recognition of the celebrity’s work in protecting the endangered animal.

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