Washington: A team of researchers has identified and named 15 new species of spider in the Caribbean after A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and David Attenborough.
Although the Caribbean region is recognised as a hotspot for biodiversity, many species remain understudied.
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The “smiley faced” spider is a key example of this.
However, the first molecular study of ‘smiley faced’ spiders has revealed that there are many more species within the genus, of which 15 are described in the paper.
As each new species of “smiley face” spiders has its own unique “smile,” the newly distinguished variation may become a source of local pride.
The team collected specimens from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Lesser Antilles, Florida, South Carolina, Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia.
Alongside titles honouring family members and pets of the paper’s authors, many species are named after notable figures. Some of the most recognisable names include:
In honour of former United States President Barack Obama, the authors of the paper named this species to honour “the dignity, humanitarianism, statesmanship, and respect.”
Named for former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders, this species was named to honour the politician and characterises as “a tireless fighter for human rights and equality, and environmentally aware social democracy.”
The specie is named after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, this species was titled to honour his “extraordinary effort to enlighten the public about the wonders of the natural world, to make humanity care about nature and for inspiring countless people to pursue the study of biology.”
The article authors named this species to honour the great artist David Bowie, who passed away prematurely in 2016 and whose music will continue to inspire the generations to come.
This species is named in tribute to the actor Leonardo DiCaprio for his “amazing acting and in particular, for his leading role in bringing awareness of the perils of global climate change to the public and politicians.”
The team named this species in honour of Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States, “who has long fought to defend human rights, fairness and equality for all, with her characteristic dignity and grace.”
Lead researcher Ingi Agnarsson from the University of Vermont said that this was an undergraduate research project and they wanted to honor the people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change.