This deep sea snail is covered in spikes, has purple blood and lives in the most extreme ocean environments. So of course the scientists that discovered it had to name it after their favorite punk rocker, Joe Strummer of The Clash.
In a study cleverly named “Molecular taxonomy and naming of five cryptic species of Alviniconcha snails (Gastropoda: Abyssochrysoidea) from hydrothermal vents,” researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute detail five new species of snails, one of which gained the scientific name A. strummeri to honor The Clash frontman.
The five new species, each the size of a golf ball, live near hydrothermal vents at depths of 11,500 feet. While they look fairly similar, their DNA points to them being separate species, researcher Shannon Johnson told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Many scientists name newly discovered species after popular people, like the Bob Marley crustacean parasite, or the Lady Gaga plant. One scientist named a jellyfish after Frank Zappa and got to meet the musician, says the Sentinel.
They do this mostly to draw attention to their work. Seriously, I’d never have posted about a deep sea snail without it’s link to one of my favorite musicians.
“In our culture, it is one sure way to get species noticed,” said Quentin Wheeler, director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at SUNY. “Some scientists frown on the practice, but their science is in trouble, and if a little humor helps, why not?”
As long as the scientific facts and naming conventions are followed, he said, there’s no harm in using a little humor and pop culture.
“This gets people excited about science,” said lead researcher Johnson. “Otherwise, people might not see these snails.”