Etymology: Names from Fictional Characters
Crito Distand, 1916 (leafhopper) named after
a dialog by Plato.
Electra Lamouroux 1816 (bryozoan)
Gargantua Jullien, 1888 (bryozoan)
Gargantuavis philoinis Buffetaut and Le Loeuff, 1998
(huge Cretaceous flightless bird) This French fossil was named for one
of the giants in Rabelais'
Gargantua and Pantagruel. "Philoinis" means "wine-loving", which
describes the original Gargantua but probably not the bird.
Grendelius McGowan, 1976 (Jurassic ichthyosaur) named
for Beowulf's nemesis. Now synonymized with
Agra othello Erwin, 2000 (carabid)
Iago Compagno & Springer, 1971 (shark)
Oberonia Lindl. (1830) (fairy orchid) The
array of tiny flowers on a stalk connected to a cluster of leaves
evoked an image of a tiny carriage with a team of horses, suggesting
Oberon, king of the fairies, driving through the branches.
Peneothello (robin) probably so named
because the bird is mostly black ("pene" means "almost").
Oedipus rex (salamander)
Oedipodrilus oedipus Holt (worm)
Saguinus oedipus oedipus
tamarin) According to a
presented by A. J. Ginther and C. T. Snowdon at the 2004 American
Society of Primatologists conference ("The Oedipal conflict in
"), these tamarins really do love their mothers
(though the dams do not let them complete the process). Apparently,
though, this behavior was not observed until after the species was
named, perhaps for its big feet.
Ozymandias Jordan & Gilbert, 1919 (fossil
Wukongopterus Wang et al., 2009 (Jurassic
pterosaur) Named for Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, hero of the Chinese
classic novel Journey to the West.
Agra eponine Erwin, 2000 (carabid) Named after the
street urchin in Les Miserables "who, in the Broadway version
of the story, personified tragic beauty. Such is the state of the
tropical forests where these beetles live."
Akela Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (jumping
spider) Named after a character in Kipling's The Jungle
Bagheera kiplingi Peckham and Peckham, 1896
(Central American spider) Named for Rudyard Kipling and Bagheera, the
black panther from Kipling's The Jungle Book. Ironically, it
is the first known vegetarian spider.
Anchylorhynchus pinocchio De Madeiros &
Nunez-Avellaneda, 2013 (weevil) because of its extremely
long snout as compared with others of its genus. (The genus name
translates as "crooked-snout".)
Walckenaeria pinocchio Kaston, 1945 (spider) Named for
Carlo Lorenzini's prevaricating marionette in The Adventures of
Balnibarbi Fortey (trilobite) Named for the
abysmally inept technocracy in Swift's Gulliver's
Viola lilliputana Ballard & Iltis, 2012
(violet) One of the smallest terrestrial dicots; named for the tiny
Lilliputians in Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
Dryadella lilliputiana Cogniaux (orchid)
Borogovia Osmólska, 1987 (theropod
dinosaur) from "borogove", a mimsy creature from Lewis Carroll's poem
Daggoo, Queequeg, and
Tashtego Sime & Wahl, 2002 (ichneumonid
wasps) named for the harpoonists in Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
[Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 134: 1]
Desulforudis audaxviator Chivian et
al. 2008 (sulfate-reducing bacterium) Found in water samples
from 2.8 km underground in the Mponeng gold mine in South Africa; the
only species known in its ecosystem. The name comes from a quotation
from Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. The
hero, Professor Lidenbrock, finds a secret Latin inscription that
reads: "Descende, audax viator, et terrestre centrum attinges"
(Descend, bold traveller, and you will attain the center of the
Dracula Luer 1978 (orchid) The orchid is blackish-red
and looks like a bat. The genus includes many species, including
Dracula nosferatu, and
Dracula diabola. The species
D. fafnir is named for a Norse giant who
turned into a dragon to guard a horde of treasure.
(The genus name has also been used erroneously for the
pigeon genus Ducula.)
Liparis draculoides (another orchid)
Desmodus draculae Morgan, Linares and Ray, 1988 (giant
South American vampire bat, recently extinct).
Danionella dracula Britz (fish) a Burmese
fish with "fangs" made of bone.
Draculo Snyder, 1911 (dragonet fish)
Hemignathus vorpalis James & Olsen 2003
(greater nukupu'u, an extinct Hawaiian finch) Named for the vorpal
blade in Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky", due to its long upper
Holorusia brobdingnagius (crane fly) Named for the
Brobdingnags, a race of giants in Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
According to Guinness, it is probably the world's largest crane fly, it
has a wingspan of 4 inches, and its legs may spread almost 9
Ichabodcraniosaurus Novacek 1996 [nomen
nudum] (dinosaur) Named for a character in Irving's Legend of Sleepy
Hollow. It was found without a head; a head was found later, but it
is uncertain whether the head belongs to the skeleton.
Agra ichabod Erwin, 2002 (carabid) "Refers
to the fact that the holotype is missing its head and the illusion is
that of the frightened schoolteacher Ichabod Crane's phantom nemesis,
the Headless Horseman, in 'The Legend of Sleepy
Laputa Whitley, 1930 (fish) and, more
Laputavis Dyke, 2001 (Middle Eocene fossil
swift) named for the floating castle in Swift's Gulliver's
Messua Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (jumping
spider) Named after a character in Kipling's The Jungle
Millerocaulis tekelili Vera, 2012
(Cretaceous fern) "Tekeli-li" was a cry of the Tsalalians, an
Antarctic race in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon
Pym of Nantucket. H. P. Lovecraft later make it an endlessly
repated cry of the monstrous shoggoths, which lived in Antarctic
caverns in At the Mountains of Madness. The fossil fern was
discovered in Antarctica. [Alcheringa 36: 37]
Morlockia Garcia-Valdecasas, 1984
(cave-dwelling remipede crustacean) Named for the Morlocks, the
subterranean subhumanoids in H.G. Well's The Time
Muscatheres Evenhuis, 1986 (bee fly)
"There are only three Muscatheres known," referring to three specimens
of the lone species, M. lurida (previously described in the genus
Nagaina Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (jumping
spider) Named after a character in Kipling's
Paramphientomum yumyum Enderlein, 1907
(psocopteran) Probably named after the character Yum-yum in Gilbert
and Sullivan's "The Mikado." This is not confirmed, but it is
supported by the fact that the insect is native to Japan.
Pseudione quasimodo Boyko & Williams,
2004 (parasitic isopod (Crustacea: Isopoda: Bopyroidea) found
under the carapace of hermit crabs) Named for Victor Hugo's bell
ringer of Notre Dame, as the parasite has a distinct bulge in dorsal
view. (Boyko originally wrote in the manuscript that he "had a hunch"
it was a new species, but the un-amused editor insisted that be
stricken from the text.)
Semiramis Becker, 1913 (bombyliid fly) A story by
Voltaire about a Babylonian queen.
Sirenoscincus mobydick Miralles et al.,
2012 (skink) "The specific epithet refers to Moby Dick, the
famous albino sperm whale imagined by Herman Melville (1851), with
whom the new species shares several uncommon characteristics, such as
the lack of hindlimbs, the presence of flipper-like forelimbs, highly
reduced eyes, and the complete absence of pigmentation."
[Zoosystema 34: 701]
Stylaclista quasimodo Early (diapriid
Tetragnatha quasimodo (Hawaiian spider)
Named for the kyphotic bellringer in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of
Aname aragog Harvey et al., 2012 (trapdoor
spider) Named after a giant spider from Rowling's Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets. [Zootaxa 3383: 15]
Calumma tarzan Gehring et al., 2010
(chameleon) So named partly because it was found in what was known
locally as the Tarzan Forest in Madagascar, and partly in hopes that
the name, like Tarzan himself, will promote conservation of the
species and the forest. [Salamandra 46: 167]
Cthulhu James and Keeling, 2012
(parabasalid, a flagellated protist termite symbiont) Named for the
tentacled demon from the writings of H. P. Lovecraft. The protist's
flagellar bundle is reminiscent of the demon.
Nanocthulhu lovecrafti Buffington, 2012
(wasp) "Cthulhu's is described as having 'a pulpy, tentacled head,'
and the clypeal fuscina [on the front of the wasp's head] described
herein is reminiscent of Cthulhu's head"; "nano-" refers to the wasp's
small size; and H.P. Lovecraft, fiction author, created
Cthulhu. [Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 114: 5]
Pimoa cthulhu Hormiga, 1994 (spider) Named after
H. P. Lovecraft's evil god.
Cthylla James and Keeling, 2012
(parabasalid, a flagellated protist termite symbiont) In
H. P. Lovecraft's writing, Cthylla was the secret daughter of
Cthulhu. The protist is a smaller and simpler relative of the protist
genus Cthulhu. [PLOS One 8(3) (2013)]
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.
Eeyorius Paulin, 1986 (Australian fish) named
for the donkey in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books.
Like Eeyore, it lives in damp, dark places.
Irritator challengeri Martill, Cruikshank, Frey, Small &
Clarke, 1996 (small theropod dinosaur) "challengeri" refers to
Professor Challenger, a character from Doyle's The Lost World.
The generic name came from the fact that inept Brazilian fossil
collectors broke the skull in extracting it and rebuilt it
incorrectly: "From irritation, the feeling the authors felt
(understated here) when discovering that the snout had been
Ituglanis macunaima Datovo & Landim, 2005
(catfish) "From the modernist Brazilian masterpiece by Mário de
Andrade -- 'Macunaíma: o herói sem nenhum
caráter' -- meaning the hero without any character, in
reference of the absence of any exclusive (taxonomic) character for
the new species. Mário de Andrade's Macunaíma was based
in folk Amazonian indian myth, and also presents infantile features,
in allusion to the paedomorphic characters of the new
species." [Neotrop. Ichthyol. 3: 461]
Ledermanniella maturiniana Beentje, 2005 (a
minute Kenyan waterweed, Podostemaceae) Named after Patrick O'Brian's
character Doctor Stephen Maturin, an avid naturalist and pathetic sailor
who often managed to fall off boats. Like him, this plant is often
Macrocarpaea apparata Grant & Struwe,
(gentian) Named after the verb "to apparate" made popular in
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. As a wizard apparating out of
nowhere, this 12-foot high plant appeared to botanists on a misty
hillside in southern Ecuador. (More info here
[Harvard Papers in Botany
Oileus gasparilomi Cano & Schuster,
2012 (bess beetle) "Named after Gaspar Ilóm, a native
hero of the novel 'Men of Maize' by [literature Nobel prize-winner]
Miguel Ángel Asturias. The collection locality is called
'mountains of Ilóm'." [Zookeys 194: 81]
Ozraptor subotaii Long & Molnar, 1998
(theropod dinosaur) Named after Subotai, a swift-running thief from
Conan the Barbarian, whose behavior this dinosaur is supposed to have
emulated. ("Oz" in the genus name comes from a colloquial abbreviation
Savignia naniplopi Bosselaers and Henderickx
2002 (linyphiid spider) "The species is named after the gnome
(Latin 'nanus') Plop, a popular character from children's stories
whose cap is similar in shape to the male cephalic snout of the
present species." [Zootaxa 109:3]
Theognete maturini Anderson, 2010 (weevil)
Named for Stephen Maturin of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series
of British Royal Naval novels.
Tinkerbella nana Huber & Noyes 2013
(fairyfly) Named for characters from J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan":
the fairy Tinkerbell, and Nana, the nurse.
Pseudolucia hazeorum Bálint and Johnson,
(lycaenid) Referring both to the hazy wing color and to the
Haze family from Lolita
Nabokov himself was an expert on lycaenids, particularly the genus
, which he named. Other lycaenid
derive from Nabokov stories, too, including:
Madeleinea nodo, M. odon Bálint & Johnson,
1994 (lycaenid butterflies) Named after half-brothers in Vladimir
Nabokov's Pale Fire, reflecting their close
Madeleinea cobaltana Bálint & Lamas,
1994 is named for Kobalt, a mountain resort in Pale
Madeleinea lolita Bálint, 1993,
Pseudolucia charlotte, P. clarea Bálint
and Johnson, 1993,
P. humbert Bálint and Johnson, 1995
(lycaenids) Named after characters in Nabokov's
Humbert humberti Sime & Wahl, 2002
(ichneumonid wasp) Named for Nabokov's Lolita pederast Humbert
Humbert. [Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 134: 1]
Paralycaeides hazelea Bálint & Johnson,
P. shade Bálint, 1993 (lycaenids)
After characters in Nabokov's Pale Fire.
Itylos pnin Bálint, 1993
for Professor Pnin.
Nabokovia ada Bálint & Lamas,
1994, for the title character, and
Madeleinea ardisensis Bálint & Lamas,
1996 named after Ardis Hall, a place in Ada or Ardor: A
A. vetinarii Butcher et al. 2012
(braconid wasps) - all names from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
Czekanowskia anguae Watson et al., 2001
(fossil gymnosperm) for Angua, she-werewolf and member of the
Ankh-Morpork City Watch. "In tribute to the author Terry Pratchett
OBE, all the new fossil plant species diagnosed and described in this
paper are named for fictional characters who appear in his series of
Discworld novels." [Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Geol.) 57:
29-82.] (This refers also to the eight entries which
Ginkgoites weatherwaxiae Watson et al.,
2001 (fossil ginkgo) for Granny Weatherwax, a
Ginkgoites nannyoggiae Watson et al., 2001
(fossil ginkgo) for Nanny Ogg, matriarch and witch.
Ginkgoites garlickianus Watson et al., 2001
(fossil ginkgo) for Magrat Garlick, witch and Queen of
Phoenicopsis rincewindii Watson et al.,
2001 (fossil gymnosperm) for Rincewind, an ineffective wizard of
Pseudotorellia vimesiana Watson et al.,
2001 (fossil conifer) after Sir Samuel Vimes, commander of the
Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
Sciadopityoides greeboana Watson et al.,
2001 (fossil gymnosperm) After Greepo, Nanny Ogg's
Sulcatocladus dibbleri Watson et al., 2001
(fossil conifer) for C.M.O.T. Dibbler, street vendor in
Torreyites detriti Watson et al., 2001
(fossil conifer) for Detritus, troll and member of the Ankh-Morpork
Adelopsis dumbo Gnaspini & Peck 2001
(leiodid beetle) Named for the big-eared cartoon elephant, because the
beetle's aedeagus, which resembles an elephant proboscis, has at its tip
a very large lateral projection resembling an ear.
Agra lilu Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) Named
for a character in the film "The Fifth Element".
Aptostichus sarlacc Bond 2012 (trapdoor
spider) The sarlacc is a creature from "Star Wars Episode VI: Return
of the Jedi" which lives at the base of a sand pit, consuming people
and animals that fall (or are thrown) in.
Bambiraptor Burnham, Derstler, Currie, Bakker, Zhou & Ostrom,
(theropod dinosaur) after Disney's Bambi, because of its
small size. [U. Kansas Paleo contributions
13] (See also a
thread which includes much discussion of the
appropriateness of the name.)
Celmus michaelmus Adrain & Fortey, 1997
(trilobite) Its abdominal apex looks like a Mouseketeer
Ceraeochrysa michaelmuris Adams & Penny (lacewing)
Its abdominal apex looks like a Mouseketeer hat.
Chloridops regiskongi James & Olson, 1991 (extinct
Hawaiian finch) Described by a local journalist as "a real King Kong
finch", thus the name.
Cystomastacoides kiddo Quicke & Butcher, 2013
(braconid wasp) Named after the assassin character Beatrix Kiddo in
Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films. [J. Hymenop. Res. 31:
Darthvaderum Hunt, 1996 (oribatid mite)
"Etymology: When I saw the SEM [scanning electron micrograph] of the
gnathosoma I immediately thought of Darth Vader, evil antihero of Star
Wars." [Records of the Australian Museum 48:
Agathidium vaderi Miller and Wheeler, 2004
(slime mold beetle) Its head resembles Darth Vader's
Polemistus vaderi Menke, 1983 (wasp)
Diplacodon gigan Mihlbachler, 2011
(brontothere) From the etymology: "'Gigan' is a fictional giant horned
monster first appearing in the 1972 Japanese film 'Godzilla versus
Gigan' and other Godzilla films thereafter." [J. Vert. Paleo.
Godzillius Yager, 1986 (remipede crustacean) These are
the largest such crustaceans, from underwater caves in the Bahamas. The
family Godzilliidae takes its name from this genus.
Godzilliognomus Yager, 1989 (godzilliid) The
smallest remipede. [Bull. of Marine Sci.
Gojirasaurus Carpenter, 1997 (theropod
dinosaur) "Gojira" is the Japanese name for Godzilla (but the dinosaur
was found in New Mexico).
Pleomothra Yager, 1989 (godzilliid) Named after
Mothra. [Bull. of Marine Sci. 44(3):1195]
Gamerabaena Lyson and Joyce, 2010 (late
Cretaceous turtle) Named for the Gamera, the giant Japanese film
monster, and the family Baenidae of which it is a
Sinemys gamera Brinkman & Peng, 1993 (Japanese
fossil turtle) Named after the giant Japanese fire-breathing flying
turtle. The fossil has wing-like projections from its shell.
Han solo Turvey 2005 (agnostid trilobite)
Officially, the genus is named after the Han Chinese (the fossil is from
northern Hunan Province, China), and the species is so named because it
appears to represent the last surviving member of the Diplagnostidae.
Really, Turvey's friends dared him to name a species after a Star Wars
character, as most of the characters' names sound like scientific names.
[Trans. Royal Soc. Edinburgh: Earth Sci. 95:
Hortipes terminator Bosselaers & Jacque
(spider) The male's palps resemble a "futuristic gun."
Polemistus chewbacca Menke, 1983 (wasp)
Shrekin Britto and Navia, 2007 (eriophyid
mite) Named for the film cartoon character Shrek "because of the
resemblance of the long, laterodorsal scapular tubercules to the long
stalked ears of this character, plus -in, Latin diminutive
suffix." [Internat. J. Acarol. 33:347-351]
Tetramorium jedi Hita Garcia & Fisher,
2012 (ant) Named for the Jedi of "Star Wars" fame.
[Zootaxa 3592: 51]
Yoda Priede et al., 2012 (acorn worm) Named
for Yoda of Star Wars fame because large lips at the worm's head
resemble Yoda's ears. [Invert. Biol. 131:
Albunione yoda Markham & Boyko, 2003 (parasitic
isopod (Crustacea: Isopoda: Bopyroidea)) This species, found under the
carapace of sand crabs, also has large projectiog lateral flaps on the
sides of its head that look like Yoda's ears.
Polemistus yoda Vincent, 1983 (wasp)
Agra dax Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) Named
for the character Jadzia Dax from "Star Trek: Deep Space
Nine" and dedicated to the actress, Terry Farrell.
Agra smurf Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) The
name was inspired by the beetle's head shape.
Annuntidiogenes worfi Fraaije et al., 2009
(Cretaceous hermit crab) The ornament of this crab recalls the
forehead of Star Trek's Mr. Worf. [Bol. Soc. Geol. Mex.
Conus tribblei Walls, 1977 (marine snail) Named after
a pet cat named "Tribbles", which was named after the furry creatures
from Star Trek. [The Pariah 1: 1-3.]
Geragnostus waldorfstatleri Turvey 2005
(trilobite) The pygidium (tail) looks just like the heads of Waldorf and
Statler of "The Muppet Show." [Trans. Royal Soc. Edinburgh: Earth
Sci. 95: 527-542]
Mestoronema Wagner 1999 (fossil snail) Named after the
evil snail king on a Dr. Who episode. [Smithsonian Contrib. to
Paleobiology 88:1-154] (Turnabout is fair play; the writers for
Dr. Who often took animal names for their monsters -- crinoids,
mandrills, Mara, etc.)
Spongiforma squarepantsii Desjardin, Peay &
T.D. Bruns, 2011 (mushroom) This orange mushroom from Borneo was
so unusual in its spongelike form, the researchers named it after
Spongebob Squarepants, the world's most famous sponge. Additionally,
its spore-producing area, under high magnification, resembles the
seafloor where Spongebob lives.
Adetomyrma goblin Yoshimura & Fisher,
2012 (ant) Adults of this blind subterranean ant drink the
hemolymph of their own larvae. Only the larvae can eat solid
Agra sasquatch Erwin, 1982 (carabid) with big
Agra yeti Erwin, 1982 (carabid) sister
species of A. sasquatch.
Camelotia Galton, 1985 (Triassic prosauropod)
from England; named for Camelot.
Campsicnemius uncleremus Evenhuis, 2000
Chupacabrachelys complexus Lehman & Wick,
2010 (Cretaceous turtle) The chupacabra (Spanish
for "goat sucker") is a creature of contemporary folk legend said to
feed on livestock in the Texas-Mexico border area. The skull of
Chupacabrachelys, to the authors, resembles a mangy coyote
believed to be responsible for chupacabra sightings. The
complexus epithet refers to "The Complex" tour of the Blue Man
Group, which entertained the authors during their work.
Cibotium barometz (L.) J.Sm. (woolly fern)
The barometz, or Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, was an imagined plant
whose fruit grew into sheep which, while connected to the plant by an
umbilical cord, grazed the area around it. Rhizomes growing up from a
woolly common base of the actual fern can form the shape of an
Cindarella Chen et al., 1996 (Cambrian
arthropod) Named "for its phonetic similarity to Xandarella" (a
similar Cambrian fossil), but likely influenced by the name of the
folkloric woman. [Ramsköld et al. 1997, Trans. Royal
Soc. Edinburgh Earth Sci. 88: 25.] Xandarella itself is
the diminutive of Greek Xandaros, "a fabulous sea-monster" [Hou et
al., Zool. Script. 20: 402].
Cinderella Steyskal, 1949 (heleomyzid
Crocidura cinderella (Cinderella shrew) from
Teleocichla cinderella Kullander 1988
(cichlid) "Named with reference to the coloration, gray and black,
producing an ashy appearance" [Copeia,
Thylamys cinderella (Cinderella fat-tailed
opossum) from NW Argentina.
Dracaena draco (dragon tree)
Dracunculus (round worm) Named after "draco", dragon.
D. medinensis is the largest tissue parasite of man (it can grow
longer than 3 feet). It is possible to extract the worm by winding it
slowly, over a period of days or weeks, around a stick. This may be the
source of the physician's caduceus. D. medinensis is on WHO's hit
list and may soon be eradicated.
Gargoyleosaurus Carpenter, Miles, & Cloward,
1998 (ankylosaurid dinosaur)
Goniacodon hiawathae Van Valen, 1978
(paleocene mammal) for Hiawatha, legendary founder of the Iriquois
Kikimora palustris Eskov, 1988 (spider)
Kikimora is a dangerous female spirit in Slavic mythology who lives in
marshes. "Palustris" means "of a marsh." [Zoologicheskyj
Zhurnal 67: 678 (in Russian)]
Merlinia (trilobite) Named for King Arthur's
Excalibosaurus McGowan, 1986 (Jurassic ichthyosaur)
Named after King Arthur's sword. Excalibosaurus has a swordlike
upper jaw, and it was found in Britain's west country, the place of the
emergence of Excalibur.
Monstera Adans. (tropical vine) A
cultivated species with edible fruit has the ironic name
Mucha tzokotucha Ozerov, 1992 (fly:
Sepsidae) Named for a fly character in a famous Russian folktale.
"Mucha" means "fly", and "tzokotucha" is the character's nickname for
himself; apparently it has no further meaning.
Paroxyna babayaga Hering, 1938 (tephritid
fruit fly) Named for the ugly Russian folklore monster
Polypterus mokelembembe Schafer and Schliewen
2006 (freshwater fish called bichir or reedfish) Named for the
cryptozoological Congolese dinosaur-like creature Mokele-mbembe
(featured, e.g., in the Disney movie "Baby"). The bichirs have been
around since the time of the dinosaurs, and this particular species
comes from the Congo. [Zootaxa 1129: 25-36]
Samrukia Naish et al. 2011 (Cretaceous
bird) Named for the Samruk, a magical bird of Kazakh
Sanctacaris Briggs & Collins, 1988 (fossil primitive
chelicerate) Literally "Santa claws" [see Gould, Wonderful Life,
Selenochlamys ysbryda Rowson & Symondson, 2008
(ghost slug from Wales). The species name is Latinised from the
Welsh ysbryd (meaning ghost or spirit), referring to the fact
that it is rarely seen, is white in color, and is
Smok wawelski Niedzwiedzki, Sulej and Dzik,
2011 (Triassic archosaur) Named for Smok wawelski (the dragon of
Wawel Hill), a famous dragon in Polish folklore.
Tarascosaurus salluvicus Le Loeuff &
Buffetaut, 1991 (Cretaceous theropod) Named for the Tarasque, a
medieval legendary dragon from Provence, France. The Salluvii were an
ancient Gallic tribe in the area near Marseilles.
Tetramorium elf Hita Garcia & Fisher,
Vampyrodes (South American bat),
Vampyressa (South American bat),
Vampyrum (false vampire bat) The last
is also misnamed, for it does not feed on blood.
Pteropus vampyrus (giant Malaysian fruit
Rhacophorus vampyrus (frog)
Leucothoe tolkieni G. Vinogradov, 1990
(amphipod) Named after J.R.R. Tolkien. [Vinogradov, G. M. 1990.
Trudy instituta okeanologii AN SSSR (Transactions of the Inst. of
Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Science) 124: 27-104 (in
Aletodon mellon (Van Valen, 1978)
(Paleocene mammal) "mellon," Elvish for "friend," was the password into
Ancalagon Conway Morris, 1977 (Cambrian priapulid)
From a dragon from Tolkien.
Ankalagon Van Valen, 1980 (Paleocene
mesonychid mammal) Renamed from Ancalagon because it was
Anisonchus eowynae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene
mammal, synonym of A. athelas Van Valen 1978) for Éowyn,
Princess of Rohan. "Athelas" was a Middle Earth healing
Beorn Cooper, 1964 (fossil tartigrade)
Named after the character Beorn from The Hobbit.
Bomburia Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal)
Bubogonia bombadili and
Protoselene bombadili (Van Valen, 1978)
(Paleocene mammals) after Tom Bombadil.
Claenodon mumak (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene
mammal) after Mûmak, the Middle Earth elephant
Deltatherium durini Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal) Several notable Dwarves were named Durin.
Earendil Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal,
synonym of Mimatuta Van Valen, 1978) for Eärendil, father of
Elachista amrodella, E. aredhella, E. caranthirella,
E. curufinella, E. daeronella, E. diorella, E. finarfinella,
E. gildorella, E. indisella, E. maglorella, E. miriella,
E. turgonella (Kaila 1999) (moths) Named after elves from
Tolkien, respectively: Amrod (Amras' twin), Aredhel (The White Lady of
Gondolin), Caranthir, Curufin, Daeron (Chief loremaster of Doriath),
Dior (King of Doriath), Finarfin (Noldor King in Aman), Gildor Inglorion
(High-Elf of Eriador & Imladris), Indis, Maglor, Miriel, Turgon (Lord of
Nevrast, then Gondolin). Kaila mentions that Elves "one after other
sailed over the water to the West, and were later difficult to see with
human eyes," alluding to the studied moths, which are very inconspicuous
and have spread to Nearctic areas. [Acta Zool. Fennica
Fimbrethil ambaronae Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal, synonym of Oxyacodon agapetillus (Cope 1884))
Fimbrethil was an Ent-maiden; Ambaróna was a name for the Ents'
Frodospira Wagner 1999 (Silurian gastropod)
A small genus named after a certain hobbit. [Am. Malacological
Macrostyphlus frodo Morrone, 1994 (Andean
Gollum Compagno, 1973 (catshark)
Gollumjapyx smeagol (dipluran
Galaxias gollumoides (fresh-water fish)
Named after Gollum because it has large eyes and was found in a
Ingerophrynus gollum Grismer 2007 (Mayasian
toad) So named for its likeness to the fictional amphibious
character. [J. Herp. 41: 225]
Gwaihiria Nauman (diapriid wasp) Named for
Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles.
Litaletes ondolinde Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal) for Ondolindë, an Elven city.
Macrostyphlus gandalf Morrone, 1994 (Andean
weevil) [This and M. frodo are from American Museum
Novitates 3104: 1-63.]
Mimotricentes mirielae Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal, synonym of Loxolophus hyattianus (Cope, 1885))
after Míriel, an Elf.
Mimatuta morgoth Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene
mammal) for the "dark enemy of the world."
Mimatuta minuial Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene
mammal) "minuial" is Elvish for dawn's twilight.
Mithrandir Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal)
one of the names of the wizard Gandalf.
Niphredil radagasti Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal, now in genus Paleotomus) Niphredil is a small
Middle Earth flower. Radagast the Brown was a wizard.
Osteoborus orc Webb, 1969 (Pliocene
Oxyprimus galadrielae Van Valen, 1978
(arctocyonid Paleocene mammal) for elf Lady Galadriel.
Pericompsus bilbo Erwin (carabid) for the title
character of The Hobbit. So called because "it was short, fat,
and had hairy feet."
Platymastus palantir Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal) The palantír was a magical viewing
Protungulatum gorgun Van Valen, 1978
(Paleocene mammal) "gorgûn" is a term for Orcs.
Sauroniops Cau et al., 2012 (Cretaceous
theropod dinosaur) The name refers to the "Eye of Sauron"; the
dinosaur is known only from a single bone above the eye
Smaug Stanley et al., 2011 (cordylid
lizard) Smaug is the name of the dragon in The Hobbit.
"According to Tolkien the name is derived from the Old German
verb smeugen -- to squeeze through a hole. Like the type
species, Smaug lived underground and was heavily armored.
Appropriately Tolkien was born in the Free State province, South
Africa, the core area of distribution of the type
species." [Mol. Phylo. Evo. 58: 53]
Smeagol Climo, 1980 (gastropod, family
Smeagolidae) Another name for Gollum.
Smeagolia Hedqvist, 1973 (pteromalid wasp)
Syconycteris hobbit Ziegler, 1982 (moss-forest blossom
bat) "The specific name is an appositive noun, alluding to certain
analogies between the newly described species and another seldom-seen
forest form, described by Tolkien (1937), one of whose chief
distinguishing characteristics was also a thickly haired
Tetramorium nazgul and
T. smaug Hita Garcia & Fisher, 2012
Thangorodrim thalion Van Valen (Paleocene
mammal, synonym of Oxyclaenus Cope 1884) Thangorodrim are the
three tallest towers of Endor; Thalion is a character from Tolkien's
Tinuviel Van Valen (Paleocene mammal) for a most
beautiful elf. The name is Elvish for nightingale.
Yavanna Vera, 2013 (Cretaceous tree fern)
In Tolkien's Silmarillion, Yavanna is a godlike Ainur
who created the plants and animals of Middle Earth.
Batman Whitley, 1956 (Australian fish) Refers to a
similarity between this fish's dorsal fin and the "bats" with which
servicemen used to signal approaching aircraft on a carrier, rather than
the famous Dark Knight of the graphic novels. Batman has now been
replaced with the older Cryptocentrus.
Otocinclus batmani Lehmann, 2006 (catfish) is
named after the caped crusader, because of a bat-shaped mark on its
tail. [Neotropical Ichthyology 4: 379]
Campsicnemus popeye Evenhuis, 2013 (fly)
So named because its enlarged tibia resemble the bulging forearms of
the cartoon character Popeye.
Eubetia boop Brown (tortricid moth)
Hypocaccus kidpaddlei Gomy 2007 (histerid
beetle) Named for Kid Paddle, a Franco-Belgian comic, because the
beetle looks like a "blork", a moster from the Kid Paddle videogame
universe. [Nouvelle Revue d'Entomologie (N.S.), 24(2):
Lepidopa luciae Boyko, 2002 (sand crab
(Crustacea: Anomura: Albuneidae)) Boyko originally thought to name it
for cartoonist Charles Schulz ("Peanuts") but Schulz's wife had the
bright suggestion to name it for Lucy van Pelt as her character was
known for being crabby. The monograph in which it is described
includes an appropriate "Peanuts" strip.
Ninjemys Gaffney, 1992 (fossil turtle) Etymology:
"Ninja, in allusion to that totally rad, fearsome foursome epitomizing
shelled success; emys, turtle."
Scelio dupondi and
Scelio janseni Yoder, 2014 (parasitic
wasps) Named for the Thomson and Thompson twin detectives in Tintin
comics. The two were always being confused with one
Bidenichthys beeblebroxi Paulin, 1995 (triple-fin blenny)
with a false head pattern.
Erechthias beeblebroxi Robinson & Nelson, 1993 (tineid)
with a false head; after Zaphod Beeblebrox, two-headed character from
Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Fiordichthys slartibartfasti Paulin, 1995 (brotulid, a
deep-sea fish) Named for Hitchhiker's Guide character
Slartibartfast, who is noted for designing fjords.
Medusaceratops lokii Ryan, Russell & Hartman,
2010 (Cretaceous ceratopsan) Named after the Medusa
specifically from Ray Harryhausen's "Clash of the Titans", for the
"snake-like, rocky appendages coming out the back of its skull"; and
after the Loki supervillian from Marvel comics, who was drawn with a
helmet with two giant curved horns.
Last modified: .
All rights reserved.