Scientists who name newly discovered species often name them after their mentors or colleagues, but some have more than a little bit of fun in the process. Take, for example, these two species of parasitic copepods:
Bobkabata kabatabobbus Hogans & Benz, 1990 (parasitic copepod) Named after parasitologist Bob Kabata [whose real given name is Zbigniew!].
Hoia hoi Avdeev & Kazatchenko, 1986 (parasitic copepod) Named after Ju-Shey Ho.
But sometimes they name new species after well-known figures of popular culture.
Funkotriplogynium iagobadius Seeman & Walter, 1997 (mite) from Iago, “James” and badius, “brown,” named after James Brown, the King of Funk.
Mastophora dizzydeani Eberhard, 1984 (spider) Named after a baseball player. The spider uses a sticky ball on the end of a thread to catch its prey.
Strigiphilus garylarsoni Clayton, ~1989 (owl louse) “I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along.” – Gary Larson
Newly discovered species of dinosaurs seem to arouse extra large doses of taxonomic whimsy:
Dracorex hogwartsia Bakker et al. 2006 (pachycephalosaur dinosaur) Named for Hogwarts School of Harry Potter fame. The genus means “dragon king.” J. K. Rowling wrote, “I am absolutely thrilled to think that Hogwarts has made a small (claw?) mark upon the fascinating world of dinosaurs.” The skull is on display at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Drinker nisti Bakker et al., 1990 (ornithopod dinosaur) after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce). “It’s the only dinosaur named after an arm of the federal government. Someday I’m going to name one after the I.R.S.” – Robert Bakker.
Qantassaurus Rich & Vickers-Rich, 1999 (Ornithopod dinosaur) Named after Qantas Airlines.
Quetzalcoatlus northropi Lawson, 1975 (Texas pterosaur) Named after an Aztec god and an aircraft designer. The pterosaur was as large as an ultra-light plane.
New strains of bacteria often seem to be discovered in labs, rather than in the field, and quite a few end up named after institutional acronyms.
Afipia (bacterium) after AFIP: Armed Force[s] Institute of Pathology.
Cedecea (bacterium) after CDC: Centers for Disease Control.
Desemzia (bacterium) after DSMZ: Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen.
These examples come to you courtesy of Mark Isaak, whose Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature is worth perusing at greater length—and multiple times.
And with that, I leave you to the fish genus Sayonara Jordan & Steele, 1906