Do you know Leonardo Dicaprio of Cameroon or Bill Gates of Costa Rica? You may argue both of these people are American, and you are correct. These names are not of people; they are names of species inspired by them.

The trend of naming the species by the name of celebrities has been increasing in recent days all across the globe. 

Species classification is substantial to understand the interconnection with the natural world better.

Scientists seek the effective way of naming the plant species after celebrities to have massive attention in the taxonomy and its conservation for the long term. 

When the species are named after the celebrity’s name, the more attention the world seeks towards species conservation.

1. Leonardo Dicarprio: Uvariopsis dicaprio

A tree called DiCaprio
A tree called DiCaprio | Image Credit – Euro News
Species NameUvariopsis dicaprio
Named AfterLeonardo Dicarprio
Discovery Date At the onset of the year 2022
LocalityEbo forest of Cameroon 

Recently, at the onset of the year 2022, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, London, have discovered the tree confined only in the Ebo forest of Cameroon possessing the unique biodiversity. 

Leonardo DiCaprio, a famous American actor in the Hollywood movie “Titanic,” has contributed hugely to logging rainforest conservation.

For his contribution to the saving of the forest, the scientists paid tribute to him, keeping the scientific name of the trees after his name. The tree’s name is Uvariopsis diCaprio, commonly known as the “DiCaprio” tree. 

It is considered the first plant species officially named by the kew scientists and is enlisted as Critically Endangered. Uvariopsis diCaprio comprises glossy yellow flowers growing from its trunk so far.

2. Barack Obama: Caloplaca obamae

Caloplaca obamae named after Barack Obama
Caloplaca obamae named after Barack Obama | Image Credit – National Science Foundation
Species NameCaloplaca obamae
Named AfterBarack Obama
Discovery Date 2007
LocalitySmall island of Southern California 

Caloplaca obamae was discovered in California for the first time. It is an endemic plant species confined only on a small island of Southern California. It is an orange-colored lichen species. 

The tribute of the scientific name Caloplaca obamae goes to Barack Obama, the former president of the United States.

This appreciation was provided by Kerry Knudsen, the lichen curator belonging to the University of California. 

Since the former president, Barack Obama, has contributed to science and technology, supporting the scientific era through education, his name honoured this tribute.

The species face threats, such as overgrazing, of the area that dominates it. 

Alteration because of the climate change-induced effects, invasion by the alien species, physical infrastructure, recreation have created more difficulty in preserving the species for the extended period. 

To control the threats, detailed monitoring of this species and its distribution at multiple time intervals (every 5 to 10 years) looks pretty foremost.

The habitat restoration and the reduction in overgrazing by the animals could protect this species since it is the species that have been paid tribute to the former president of the United States.

3. Stephan Colbert: Aptostichus stephencolberti and Agaporomorphus colberti

Spider species named after Stephan Colbert
Spider species named after Stephan Colbert | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
Species NameAptostichus stephencolberti and Agaporomorphus colberti
Named AfterStephan Colbert
Discovery Date 2007 
LocalityVenezuela

Stephen Colbert is a world-renowned comedian and satirist. It has been revealed that he had begged the scientists to name the species after him. It is mentioned in the Colbert Report. 

He was honoured with the two scientific names, i.e., Aptostichus stephencolberti and Agaporomorphus colberti, the one with spider and the other with Venezuelan diving beetle, respectively. 

Since the beetle species possesses unique fine hair rows, it is noted in its male reproductive organs.

4. John Cleese: Avahi cleesei

Avahi Cleesei named after John Cleese
Avahi Cleesei named after John Cleese | Image Credit – Dayton Daily News
Species NameAvahi cleesei
Named AfterJohn Cleese
Discovery Date 1990
LocalityTsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in the central-western part of Madagascar

Bemaraha woolly lemur was first discovered in 1990 and was named officially in 2005. 

The research records its distribution limited to the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in the central-western part of Madagascar. 

It weighs around 5-6 kilograms. There is minimal research targeting this species, and the threats to this species include habitat shrinking for a continuous long term.

John Cleese is one of the renowned comic actors from Britain. He has been engaged in lemur conservation for years by promoting it in Fierce Creatures and the documentary Operation Lemur with John Cheese. 

To provide a tribute to his massive contribution to the lemur species, the scientists named the woolly lemur species Avahi cleesei in 2005.

5. Hugh Hefner: Sylvilagus palustris hefneri

Learn more about the species | Video Credit – Video Ark
Species NameSylvilagus palustris hefneri
Named AfterHugh Hefner
Discovery Date 1995
Localitysoutheast part of the United States

Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is enlisted as one of the endangered rabbit species. It was discovered firstly in the southeast part of the United States. 

Hugh Hefner was the founder of Playboy, a cartoon series dressed in bunny costumes. His organisation has supported financially to research this species. Visualising his interest in species conservation, the scientists named this marsh rabbit after his name.

It has been under multiple threats such as invasion from several species, including Felis catus, Python bivittatus, and Procyon lotor. 

Besides this, habitat alteration has posed a danger to its distribution in population numbers.

This species is 40 cm in length, and its weight is 1.6 kilograms. Its habitat has been degraded, thus harbours less population. 

In commercial and residential development, freshwater resources exploitation and poaching seem to be the fundamental threats imposed to this species. 

Accidental attacks from cats and dogs are considered a threat to Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

6. Harrison Ford: Pheidole harrisonfordi (ant) and Calpurnia harrisonfordi (spider)

Pheidole harrisonfordi (ant)
Pheidole harrisonfordi (ant) | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Species Name
Pheidole harrisonfordi (ant) and Calponia harrisonfordi (spider)
Named AfterHarrison Ford
Discovery Date Calponia harrisonfordi on 1993
LocalityCalpurnia harrisonfordi on California in the United States

Harrison Ford is a famous film actor around the globe. Once, he had narrated a documentary concerning the ant species in the London Museum of Natural History. 

To honour his pioneer conservation work towards the conservation of Pheidole harrisonfordi (ant) and Calponia harrisonfordi (spider), the scientist named these two species after his name. It reflects that most celebrities pay attention to species conservation these days.

Pheidole harrisonfordi (ant) distribution is from southern Mexico to Costa Rica, primarily recorded in the Neotropical regions ranging from sea level to 1600 m.

Calponia harrisonfordi is one species discovered in 1993 and found in California in the United States. 

It is inferred as one of the primitive members of the Caponiidae family. The species was honoured by the scientists and arachnologist Norman I. Platnick.

7. Beyonce: Scaptia beyonceae

Fly with golden booty named after Beyonce
Fly with golden booty named after Beyonce | Image Credit – CBS News
Species NameScaptia beyonceae
Named AfterBeyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter
Discovery Date 1981
LocalityNorthern and northwestern Australia

Dr. Bryan Lessard, an entomologist from Australia and a researcher from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, discovered a horsefly subgenus specimen known as Scaptia beyonceae, which possesses a golden abdomen and honey-colored wings. It was detected in the Australian National Insect collection.

He had a tribute named after the lady singer Beyonce. He hopes that tributing the species in the name of celebrities would further assist in the conservation efforts all over the globe.

Scaptia beyonceae was collected in the same year where Beyonce was born in 1981. 

Horseflies have a very significant contribution to plant pollination and interactions. 

Once this species got discovered, it extended the study of the Scarpia subgenus. Its distribution includes northern and northwestern Australia, which were not thought to exist in the past years.

8. Lady Gaga: Gender fluid ferns

Lady Gaga immortalized in ferns
Lady Gaga immortalized in ferns | Image Credit – NBC News
Species NameGaga germanotta
Named AfterStefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Discovery Date 2012
LocalityCentral and southern America, Mexico, Texas, and Arizona

For the first time, several species of ferns were discovered in central and Southern America, Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. 

Nineteen ferns that possess distinct DNA sequences known as GAGA were named after the famous pop star Lady Gaga in 2012.

Since the species resembles Lady Gaga’s outfit, the scientists thought of keeping the fern species named after the celebrities. 

Since the pop star harbours the equality defence and the individual expression, the scientists would like to honour the pop star.

It has been lamented that in 2010 at the Grammy Awards, Lady Gaga was observed in the costume, which seemed like the ferns’ bisexual reproductive stage adequately known as a gametophyte. 

Thus, Pryer was willing to devote his contribution and pay tribute to the famous pop star.

Apart from these, Gaga Germanotta was kept in honour of the popstar full name’s Stefani Germanotta and the other as Gaga monstraparva that signifies her fans to whom she yells as the ‘little monsters.’

The botanist discovered it at Duke University, and the term gender has been given to it since the plant reproduces by the spores, which can be male, female, or both. The ferns include Gaga Germanotta, Gaga monstraparva in honour of Lady Gaga.

The growth of Gaga ferns is likely of the bright green colour having heart-shaped in its growing phase. 

The biology professor Kathleen Pryer honoured Lady Gaga, which matched with the Armani dress worn by the singer in Grammy Awards. 

Among the 19 species, two ferns species were discovered, and the rest are reclassified of the ferns, which were wrongly categorised before.

9. Caligula japonica

Caligula japonica
Caligula japonica | Image Credit – Flickr
Species NameCaligula japonica
Named AfterRoman emperor Caligula (Gaius Caesar)
Discovery Date 1872
LocalityJapan, Korea, China, and Russia

Caligula japonica is inferred as one of the Japanese giant silkworms that belong to the Saturniidae family. In 1872 they initiated a discussion on Caligula japonica firstly. 

The primary distribution of this species entails Japan, Korea, China, and Russia. There was once Roman emperor Caligula. He won the taxonomic title of the moth species.

Its larvae feed on multiple plant species such as Fagus, Quercus, Salix, and much more. 

It is a beautiful silkworm with a brown colour comprising two black eyes and two circular window-panes marking its forewings.

Its natural enemy includes pathogens and parasites such as Bacillus thuringiensis, Sarcophaga harpax, Trichogramma dendrolimi, Exorista bombycis.

10. Shakira: Aleiodes shakirae

Aleiodes shakirae
Aleiodes shakirae | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
Species NameAleiodes shakirae
Named AfterShakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll 
Discovery Date 2014
LocalityEastern Andes mountain located in Ecuador

In the eastern Andes mountain located in Ecuador, for the first time, Dr. Eduardo Shimbori and Dr. Scottt Shaw discovered Aleiodes shakirae

It belongs to the Braconidae, a wasp family. It further causes the caterpillar host to shake. 

The most famous singer globally, Shakira, was given her name to this wasp family. Since the singer’s belly dance resembles the wasp wiggle, the two scientists contribute her name for the newly discovered wasp species.

The trend of specifying the scientific name of the species by the celebrities’ name has been tremendously increased compared to the past.

In general, Aleiodes shakirae comprises four to nine millimetres long. There is a unique mechanism of its life cycle. Adult female wasps inject an egg into a specific caterpillar where it hatches. 

The host caterpillar is alive for some time, and the wasp larva eats its inside gradually, resulting in the eventual shrinking of the caterpillar.

And finally, the caterpillar dies with the cocoon formation by the larva and the mummy. 

Thus, it can be revealed that honouring the belly dance of the Colombian singer Shakira, the wasp was given the name.

11. Effigy okeeffeae

Effigy okeeffeae
Effigy okeeffeae | Image Credit – Wikidata
Species NameEffigy okeeffeae
Named AfterGeorgia O’ Keeffe
Discovery Date 2006
LocalityNorthern region of New Mexico 

In the late 1940s, Edwin Colbert collected the species Effigy, the habitat of the ghost ranch, which was still left in the Museum until 2006 upon rediscovery. 

The body part resembles a six-foot length and two-legged dinosaur. But the scientists support that it’s likely the cousin of today’s alligators and crocodiles.

The word Effigi infers ‘ghost.’ The species name of these animals was kept okeeffeae in the tribute of the artist Georgia O’ Keeffe who lived in the northern region of New Mexico where the fossil was discovered for the first time.

Due to the scientists’ detection of two-inch ankle bones, it was possible to know that Effigia was the crocodile species. 

Their extinction was the many causes of the climate change-induced effects and the volcanic eruption. 

12. Bill Gates: Eristalis gatesi

The bill gates flower fly
The bill gates flower fly | Image Credit – Right Brain
Species NameEristalis gatesi
Named AfterBill Gates
Discovery Date 1997
LocalityHigh montane cloud forest of Costa Rica

Eristalis gatesi entails only the high montane cloud forest of Costa Rica. Bill Gates is a pioneer founder of Microsoft software who has assisted and invested mainly in science and technology. 

To the science of Dipterology, his contribution is always considered substantial. Keeping this account into view, the scientist kept this insect in the tribute of Bill Gates.

He has been donating to launching multiple science programs, ranging from renewable energy to wildlife conservation activities. 

It signifies the interest and role of the celebrities in wildlife and flora conservation for a prolonged period.

It is also inferred as the Bill Gates Flower Fly who visits the flower for pollen and nectar. It has a unique black and yellow colour pattern on the abdomen. It is confined only to the higher elevations in Costa Rica. 

The crucial habitat of Eristalis gatesi entails the forest edges in the montane forest having a height of 2500 m and more.

13. Bob Marley parasite

Bob Marley Parasite
Bob Marley Parasite | Image Credit – Applied Ecology
Species NameGnathia marleyi
Named AfterBob Marley
Discovery Date 2012
LocalityCorner of the coral reefs in the eastern Caribbean

Bob Marley parasite is a blood-feeding fish parasite that hides in the corner of the coral reefs in the eastern Caribbean. 

Since the scientist Paul Sickle has enormous respect and admiration for Marley’s music, he named the species, thereby paying tribute to the most famous musician Bob Marley.

In 2012 scientists gave a small crustacean parasite the name Gnathia marleyi. It does feed the fishes and the several coral reefs in the Caribbean. 

The field marine biologist and the scientist at Arkansas State University, Paul Sickle, honoured the species by Bob Marley’s legend. 

Bob Marley is known for his wonderful music. He is the late Jamaican singer and the guitarist as well.

14. Helen Mirren: Nepenthes cultivar

Nepenthes cultivar
Nepenthes cultivar | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
Species NameNepenthes cultivar
Named AfterHelen Mirren
Discovery Date 2011
LocalityPhilippines

This species is one of the meat-eating jungle plants. The scientists Borneo Exotics pay an hour to Helen Mirren, an actress. The name was announced during the Chelsea Flower Show in the year 2011.

The actress Helen Mirren launched the insect-eating plant at the Chelsea flower show.

15. David Attenborough: Attenborosaurus conybeari

David Attenborough and his ‘Attenborosaurus’ | Video Credit – Washington Post
Species NameAttenborosaurus conybeari
Named AfterDavid Attenborough
Discovery Date 1880
LocalityJurassic coast of England

The United States palaeontologist Robert Bakker is one of the renowned scientists. His renaming of long-term extinct plesiosaur, which he named Attenborosaurus conybeari, has carried attention worldwide. 

Scientists kept the species name honouring the legendary broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough. 

He is inspired by the naturalists’ works and dedication to conserving the species and nature as a whole.

According to the broadcaster David Attenborough, the uniqueness of naming this animal includes both the genus and the species name. 

Attenborosaurus lived roughly 190 million years ago. Sir David Attenborough had visited the Museum to seek the fossil reptile renamed after his name.

16. Grimalditeuthis bonplandi

Grimalditeuthis bonplandi | Video Credit – edyong209
Species NameGrimalditeuthis bonplandi
Named AfterJazmin Grace Grimaldi
Discovery Date 2005
LocalityMesopelagic and bathypelagic zone below sea level

It is one of the sea squids whose tentacles grow. Prince Albert I of Monaco was a renowned teuthologist who studied the deep-sea squids by a collection of sperm whales. He highly devoted his life to oceanography.

He had once bestowed a constitution on the Principality in 1911. The scientific name of this species was after Prince Albert’s family, Grimaldi.

It utilises unique techniques to lure prey. They use their body parts as a lure to attract the prey and capture them.

Grimalditeuthis bonplandi devoid suckers, hooks, sticky pads, and bright spots. The tentacles it possesses are heavily used to directly drag the prey into their mouths. It is considered only the sea-creature which harbours squid with bare clubs

Their feeding tentacles could not be shot out and were highly preferred by this creature to bring its meal.

Conclusion

Unique and diverse, all these celebrities have this common trait. Another similarity should be adoring. 

As much as we love our influencers, these species deserve adequate attention. 

Hopefully, such names inspire humans to love them more and consider preserving them.

Kalpana Ghimire holds a post-graduate degree in Environmental Science from Nepal. She possesses numerous research experiences working in water pollution, community forestry, environment conservation status, and wildlife ecology. She was an internee in the Department of Environment (EIA monitoring and auditing section) under the Government of Nepal. Kalpana Ghimire is an avid traveler, an enthusiastic wildlife researcher, and has a huge passion for working in the environment sector. She loves far traveling to the natural areas, conducting field wildlife research and reading the novels.