Scientists named these animals after Star Wars characters, because why the hell not?
Apparently, there really are Star Wars fans with perhaps just a touch of “silly” in every profession, including the world of And, upon discovering a new species or having to come up with the taxonomy for newly discovered species, decided not to name these critters after themselves or perhaps historic individuals who’ve made huge contributions to humanity. What did they do? Named the critters after Star Wars characters! And why not? Taxonomy is a topic many people find terribly dull, so why not inject a little humor along the way? Or perhaps you think that Star Wars has made a major contribution to humanity. However you feel about it, here’s some of our favorite creatures names for Star Wars.
This miniscule weevil that measures only 3mms long has been discovered in New Guinea. Described as “cute and fuzzy”, these teeny-tiny beetles live in the leaf litter of the New Guinean forests. And, because the dense scales on the beetle’s head and legs reminded scientists of everyone’s favorite Wookie, they named it Trigonopterus Chewbacca. There’s a few other species of weevils in this genus, including T. attenboroughi, after the world-famous British naturalist David Attenborough.
Discovered in 1998 in Brazil’s Gurupi River, this catfish with its dark, bulbous eyes and sucker mouth, finally received its taxonomic name in 2005, when Chris Hamilton from Auburn University’s Museum of Natural History pointed out that the catfish looked “like that guy from Star Wars”. And “that guy” happened to be Greedo. Not as widely known as Darth Vader, Chewie or Yoda, but still easily recognisable for hard-core fans, Greedo was the unfortunate Rodian bounty hunter who was killed by Han Solo. Speaking of……
Meet the prehistoric trilobite, Han solo. This extinct creature was a marine arthropod, part of the taxonomic class Trilobita. Little Han solo made his way into the world during the Ordovician period, some 485 million years ago. Samuel Turvey responsible for the taxonomic classification of this extinct marine critter justified his choice of name by saying he’d chosen Han for China’s largest ethnic group and Solo because this little fossil is the youngest specimen of that fossil family found at the time. However, he said elsewhere that he chose Han Solo because he was dared to name a new species after a Star Wars character.
This slightly more fearsome ancestor of the giraffe sports some serious head gear. It’s got short horns, like a giraffe, but a little bigger, and a steeply sloping brow with a big old T-shaped bony appendage right on the top – presumably to do battle with. The head gear strongly reminded palaeontologists of the decorative headpiece of Queen Padme Amidala, hence they felt the need to name this extinct giraffe Xenokeryz amidalae.
The Tetramorium jedi is a Madagascan ant. According to authors Fisher and Garcia, they named this ant species to pay homage to the “fictional, noble, and wise guardians of peace from the Star Wars universe created by George Lucas”. We think these guys were big fans.
Yes, you absolutely read that correctly. Wockia Chewbacca, aka, the Chewbacca moth, is a real creature named after its discovery in 2009. Big and hairy, the moth immediately reminded the scientists of everybody’s favorite Wookie. Do you think Chewie would be flattered or insulted?
The purple Yoda is an acorn worm that’s closely related to the starfish. This marine invertebrate has two wing-like appendages protruding from either side of its head that, according to the paper published in the Invertebrate Biology journal, made researchers think of that awesome little Jedi master
Sounds fearsome, right? Like a great white shark or a sub species of black leopard or something? Not quite. Darthvaderum greensladeae is a teeny tiny mite. It’s not even a flesh-eating mite. It lives in Australian forests In 1996, David Hunt saw the mouth parts of this new species of tree mite, and apparently immediately thought of Darth Vader.
Yoda again has the dubious distinction of having another creature named after him. This time, it’s a parasite that lives inside the gills of crabs. Doesn’t that sound lovely?!? The female’s head shares a similar silhouette to the mighty Jedi master.
Of all the Star Wars characters, Yoda, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader appear to be the most popular when it comes to having critters named after them, and this time, the Dark Lord has been lucky enough to have a slime-mold beetle as his namesake! It eats fungi that grows on rotten plant and animal matter.
A Few Other Notables
There’s a collection of three sphecid moth species, discovered together during a single study. Menke said that he “wanted to add a little humor” to taxonomic classification, and it just so happens that he was a huge Star Wars fan and 1983 was the year in which Return of the Jedi hit the big screen. So, he named his three species Polemistus chewbacca, P. vaderi, and P. yoda.
It’s not just the characters who get critters named after them, either. Harrison Ford has two recently discovered species named in his honor – a spider called Calponia harrisonfordi, and an ant called Pheidole harrisonfordi.
What creatures would you like to see named after your favorite Star Wars character?