English composer and singer Sir Elton John has joined the list of celebrities and politicians who have creatures named in their honor. Last year, a water mite was named after Jennifer Lopez and a wasp species was named after Shakira for its ‘dance-inducing’ larvae. Angelina Jolie and President Obama also have species named after them.
Thomas has been listening to Elton John’s music all his career
Researchers led by Dr James Thomas of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, Florida have discovered a ‘hitchhiking’ coral reef crustacean species in Indonesia and named it after Elton John. Scientists were exploring the remote coral reefs of Raja Ampat in Indonesia when they stumbled across the crustacean species living inside another invertebrate in a commensal relationship (which means it neither benefits nor harms its host).
Thomas said he had been listening to Elton John’s music in the lab during his entire career. So, when he discovered this unusual crustacean under his microscope, “an image of the shoes Elton John wore as the Pinball Wizard came to mind.” So, Thomas quickly named the new shrimp-like creature Leucothoe eltoni after the English composer. Findings of the study were published in the latest issue of the journal ZooKeys.
The same species also reported in Hawaiian waters
Scientists and taxonomists who discover a new species have the choice to pick names relevant to features of the species, location, or people they admire. Soon after Dr James Thomas named the species, L eltoni was reported from Hawaiian waters as an invasive species. It was identified to be the same species as the one from Indonesia.
Thomas said the most likely way it reached the Hawaiian waters was by hitchhiking “inside its host sponge or tunicate that was attached to a large floating drydock transported to Hawaii from Subic Bay, Philippines.” The new species has also been found in the Philippines. Currently, it’s unclear what effect this species has on native creatures when it is transported to other ecosystems.