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Rock & Roll Animals: 22 Weird Creatures Named After Superstars

Freddie Mercury, Jerry Garcia, the Beatles and more artists have inspired the scientific names of rare species

bob marley rock animal

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns; Y-zo via Wikipedia Commons

Scientists recently named a new Caribbean fish parasite Gnathia marleyi, after reggae legend Bob Marley. (Pictured at left, inset, is a similar parasite.) As it turns out, Marley isn't the only star to be immortalized forever in the annals of zoology. Check out these other animals who were named after some rock & roll bigwigs – just wait until you see the critter version of the Fab Four.

By Jessica Misener

neil young rock animal

Ebet Roberts/Redferns; Forrest Croce/ECU Marketing

Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi (Neil Young, trapdoor spider)

Jason Bond, a biology professor at East Carolina University, christened a new species of spider he discovered in 2007 after the "Heart of Gold" singer. "I really enjoy his music and have had a great appreciation of him as an activist for peace and justice," Bond said of Young.

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freddie mercury rock animal

Peter Still/Redferns

Cirolana mercuryi (Freddie Mercury, East African isopod)

This fine creature is a species of crustacean found off the coast of Zanzibar, a city in Tanzania. Zanzibar, of course, is the birthplace of Farrokh Bulsara, who later took the name Freddie Mercury and fronted a crazy little band called Queen. Isopods have seven pairs of legs, none of which would probably look as good as Freddie’s in a pair of white denim shorts.

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jerry garcia rock animal

Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Mark Pellegrini (Raul654)

Cryptocercus garciai (Jerry Garcia, wood roach)

Grateful Dead fans used to a different kind of roach might be surprised to know that there’s also an actual insect named after the leader of the original jam band kings. Garcia also has an asteroid named after him, christened by two Deadhead astronomers.

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green day rock animal


Macrocarpaea dies-viridis (Green Day, flower)

Green Day's plant gets an honorable mention in this list of rock & roll animals. Harvard researchers bestowed the name "dies-viridis" (Latin for "green day") upon their newly minted species of night-blooming flower after listening to the band while driving throughout Ecuador on their research trips.

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mark knopfler

Bob King/Redferns

Masiakasaurus knopfleri (Mark Knopfler, small dinosaur)

The paleontologists who discovered this small predatory theropod dinosaur spent a lot of time jamming out to Dire Straits – so they named it after the band's distinctive baritone lead singer. Notable for having its front teeth pointing straight outward rather than down, Masiakasaurus lived in the time before microwave ovens and custom kitchen deliveries, but still probably got its prehistoric money for nothing and its lady dinosaurs for free.

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elvis presley rock animal

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Preseucoila imallshookupis (Elvis Presley, gall wasp)

Gall wasps never had as much swagger as this one. Scientists created a new genus, Preseucoila, based on the name "Presley" – and just to make things extra clear, they named the species after one of the King's signature hits.

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james taylor carole king rock animal

Mike Coppola/FilmMagic

Anacroneuria taylori and Anacroneuria carole (James Taylor and Carole King, insects)

Decades after James Taylor and Carole King's first performance together at the Troubador, the singer-songwriters have been immortalized as two closely related species of stoneflies. "You've Got a Friend," indeed.

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james brown rock animal

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Funkotriplogynium iagobadius (James Brown, mite)

In 1997, some mite researchers gave a new species a Latin name that cleverly disguised a tribute to the hardest working man in show business. (Iago = "James," badius = "brown.") It's the funkiest microscopic insect on earth.

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keith richards rock animal

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Perirehaedulus richardsi (Keith Richards, trilobite)

Trilobites – an extinct class of sea-living arthropods that died out 250 million years ago – have some of the most rock & roll names in biological history. This species was named after the Rolling Stones' legendary guitarist.

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simon and garfunkel rock animals

GAB Archive/Redferns

Avalanchurus simoni and Avalanchurus garfunkeli (Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, trilobites)

the beatles rock animals

Harry Hammond/V&A Images/Getty Images

The Trilo-Beatles

425 million years ago, a less-handsome version of the Fab Four roamed the earth as prehistoric ocean dwellers. Avalanchurus lennoni (John Lennon) and Avalanchurus starri (Ringo Starr) belonged to the same genus as their Simon & Garfunkel-named friends, while Struszia harrisoni (George Harrison) and Struszia mccartneyi (Paul McCartney) came from a different genus. Together, they comprised one of the greatest bands in evolutionary history.

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