From Elsa Soares to Harrison Ford: the statues that give name to new insect species

Photo: Reproduction/Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Harrison Ford’s famous Indiana Jones character was terrified of snakes, but a real reptile is now named after the actor. A new species of snake found in Peru has been named Tachymenoides harrisonfordi in honor of the actor’s environmental advocacy.

Ford, who is vice president of the non-profit Project Conservation International, also has an ant and a spider named after him. The actor joked, “These scientists keep naming creatures after me, but they always choose to name creatures that scare kids.” Unlike his character, Indiana Jones, Ford said he liked snakes and “felt an instant connection to it”.

Photo: Reproduction/Edgar Lehr/Conservation International

He further joked, “Snake has eyes you can drown in, and he spends most of his day sunbathing next to a puddle of dirty water – we might have been friends in the early 60s.” The discovery, a collaboration between researchers from Peru and the United States, was made in Peru’s Otishi National Park.

“For a biologist, describing a new species and releasing it with its new name is one of the most important activities during a biodiversity crisis,” said Edgar Lehr, lead scientist on the project. “Only known organisms can be preserved.” They hope the discovery will shed light on the worldwide species extinction crisis. Reptiles are particularly at risk of extinction, with more than a fifth of all reptiles currently at risk, according to a study by researchers at Conservation International.

famous species

Last year, a new species of ant discovered in Manaus was also named after an artist: Leptogenis elzasaures. The little ant has two colors: black and yellow. The taxonomists responsible for this discovery decided to honor Elsa Soares when classifying the new insect.

There is also a fish-eating parasite in the Caribbean that was named Gnathia marleyi in honor of Bob Marley. And then there’s Gnathia marleyi, a fly named after Beyoncé. Even tycoon Hugh Hefner got a pet to live up to his name: American scientists named a species of rabbit Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

Shakira, on the other hand, inspired scientists who discovered a new species of wasp in 2014. Eliodes shakira is a parasite of caterpillars, and lays its eggs inside them. When this happens, the little animal moves and that’s where the idea came from: the caterpillar’s movements reminded Shakira and her belly dancing.

Great fun!

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