A newly named species of marine spider discovered in Australia has gotten quite the buzz in recent days, as it was named after legendary Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley, with one of the late musician’s popular songs specifically inspiring researchers to give the arachnid its distinctive scientific name.
In a study published recently in the journal, Evolutionary Systematics, a team of Australian researchers explained the origin of the scientific name Desis bobmarleyi or Bob Marley’s intertidal spider. As noted, the Marley composition, “High Tide or Low Tide,” turned out to be right in line with the high tide/low tide habitat where such intertidal species make their homes.
“The known species hide away in barnacle shells, corals or the holdfasts of kelp during high tide where they build air chambers from silk, but are vagrant hunters of other invertebrates during low tide and typically collected from the surface of intertidal rocks, corals, debris or plants,” the researchers explained.
According to Newsweek, it was close to nine years ago when the marine spider was first discovered on the Australian coastline, but it only got its name earlier this month when the researchers published their paper a few days before Christmas on December 22. That’s where they further explained how Marley’s music inspired their trip to Port Douglas in Queensland, where they studied the unusual spider to learn more about it.
“The song ‘High Tide or Low Tide’ promotes love and friendship through all struggles of life.”
— SCB – Marine (@SCBMarine) December 28, 2017
After studying male and females of the newly-named species, the researchers found that females measure about nine millimeters in length, making them a bit larger than males, which measure about six millimeters long. Both sexes of the Bob Marley’s intertidal spider were found to have bodies that are primarily reddish brown, with orange-brown legs and dark gray hair-like features covering those limbs. The spiders have only been sighted on the northeastern coast of Queensland, but it isn’t known whether they can also be found in other parts of Australia or other parts of the world.
According to Sci-news, the researchers, who were led by Queensland Museum arachnologist Barbara Baehr, also provided new descriptions for two of the closest relatives of the Bob Marley’s intertidal spider: Desis vorax and Desis hartmeyeri, which can be found in Samoa and Western Australia, respectively.
The scientists’ decision to name the new marine spider after a musical legend does not come without precedent, as there have been other animals named after such icons in recent years. One such example is the black tarantula species Aphonopelma johnnycashi, which, according to BBC News, got its name from Johnny Cash, as it was discovered near Folsom Prison, California, which Cash immortalized through his classic song “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even present-day musical icons had lent their names to newly-named species, as Science Daily noted almost six years ago when a previously unnamed horse fly species was named in honor of Beyonce, due to its “glamorous” golden lower abdomen.