You know how they sometimes refer to classic rock bands as “dinosaurs”? Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, to name just a few; and the word “fossil” has been dropped more than once when referring to Mick Jagger or Keith Richards.
The funny thing is, there are actual prehistoric species that have been named after rock stars! What a great example of how music inspires people, and how much scientists feel the need to categorize the world in human terms.
Mick has not one, but three fossils named after him.
-In 1995, a trilobite species was named Aegrotocatellus jaggeri by Edgecombe and Adrain.
-An extinct species of Permian (around 300-250 million years ago) sea snail found in Nevada was named Anomphalus jaggerius.
-Then there’s Jaggermeryx (“Jagger’s water nymph”), an extinct genus of the semiaquatic anthracothere (say what?!). Anthracothere were large mammals from the Early Miocene (around 19 million years ago), related to modern-day hippopotamuses. Fossils were first found in 1918, but it wasn’t until 2014 that they were identified as a distinct genus, and subsequently named after Mick because of its over-sized lips.
Keith Richards also has a trilobite named after him: Perirehaedulus richardsi, named, like the trilobite named after Jagger, in 1995 by Adrain and Edgecombe.
Masiakasaurus knopfleri was found in Madagascar in 2001: a rather small carnivorous theropod from the Late Cretaceous period (around 65 million years ago). The first part of its name means “vicious lizard” in Malagasy, and the second part was inspired by Mark Knopfler’s music: the expedition crew only seemed to find new fossils when listening to the Dire Straits. This dinosaur had extraordinary outward-pointing teeth, indicative of a specialized diet: most likely fish.
Simon & Garfunkel
More trilobites! Avalanchurus simoni and Avalanchurus garfunkeli are two of four species of Avalanchurus, an extinct genus of trilobite (around 425 million years ago).
The other two species of Avalanchurus are A. lennoni and A. starri, named after John Lennon and Ringo Starr. Struszia harrisoni and Struszia mccartneyi are trilobites from a different genus.
Alviniconcha strummeri is not a fossil, but I like it so much that I’m including it here anyway. It was named after The Clash singer and guitarist Joe Strummer. Just read this description of how punk rock this snail is: “The name highlights the ‘hardcore’ nature of Alviniconcha snails, that inhabit the hottest, most acidic and most sulphidic microhabitats at Indo-Pacific hydrothermal vents. The name also recognizes the surface of Alviniconcha shells: the spiky periostracum resembles the fashion of punk rock bands.” (source)
The Sex Pistols
The trilobite genus Arcticalymene includes species named after each original member of the Sex Pistols: A. cooki, A. rotteni, A. viciousi, A. matlocki and A. jonesi. Named by the same guys who named the Rolling Stones trilobites.
Formally named Cryolophosaurus ellioti: a carnivorous theropod from the Early Jurassic period (around 180 million years ago) found in Antarctica in 1990. It was nicknamed Elvisaurus because of its distinctive crest, reminiscent of Elvis’ coiffure.
No matter what type of rock they’re hewn out of, there’s no doubt that many trilobites are punk rock. Mackenziurus johnnyi, M. joeyi, M. deedeei and M. ceejayi were named after the original Ramones by an Australian paleontologist.
Frank Zappa has a whole slew of naturalist discoveries named after him, but the one that belongs on this list is Vallaris zappai, a small mammal from the Early Miocene, discovered in Anatolia, Turkey.
An extinct genus of arthropods (related to millipedes and centipedes) named Maldybulakia, found in Australia, has two species called M. angusi and M. malcolmi, after the Young brothers.
A giant herbivore iguanian reptile from the Eocene period (around 50 million years ago), found in Myanmar, was named Barbaturex morrisoni in honour of The Doors singer Jim Morrison, who called himself “The Lizard King”.
Now I feel like I’ve missed my chance to become a paeleontologist and name a dinosaur after Bruce Springsteen. Oh, well. With any luck, I’ll stumble upon some new genus by accident and get the chance after all, like this awesome little girl.