- Martin Forman
Zoologists have a quirky sense of humor. Last week, an international group of researchers discovered a new genus of velvet spider and named it “Loureedia”—you know, after Lou Reed. Er, why?
“In recognition of the fact that this velvet spider lives underground, the new genus has been named Loureedia in a whimsical salute to the musician who began his distinguished career leading the 60s rock band ‘The Velvet Underground,'” reports Sci-News.
Researchers then engaged in a massive laugh attack, pulling tissues from their pocket protectors to wipe up tears of whimsy.
But seriously, naming spiders after rock icons is actually a bit of an established practice in the scientific community. In 1994, a spider discovered by Robert Bosmans and Jan Bosselaers in Cameroon was given the name Pachygnatha zappa after Frank Zappa, supposedly because Zappa’s moustache resembled the pattern on the female’s abdomen. And in 2009, German spider specialist Peter Jäger gave an endangered spider the name Heteropoda davidbowie, in tribute to Bowie’s Spiders From Mars. East Carolina University biologist Jason Bond named a spider after Neil Young (Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi) in 2008, but that was just because Bond really liked Neil Young.
As for Loureedia itself:
“…most kinds of velvet spider are rarely encountered. Most species keep well hidden or dig burrows and live underground. Because of the cryptic habits of most velvet spiders, scientific knowledge of this spider family is uneven to say the least.” [Sci-News]
Presumably, when scientists find Laurieandersonia they’ll have a little more information on this elusive spider family to work with.