Marine scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, in California, have discovered an interesting new species of deep-sea snail. This oceanic invertebrate has been named after the late, great, punk rock artist, Joe Strummer, of the Clash.
Although the golf ball sized, spiked shell and the its former occupant, do not mirror any resemblance to the artist, the Alviniconcha strummer has been dubbed this title due to its ‘punk rock’ appearance; by ‘appearance’ the scientists are referring to the ‘bleach blond’ color and sharp spines, covering the shell.
Shanon Johnson, a researcher and co-author for the paper citing the discovery of the snail, stated to the Santa Cruz Sentinel :
Because they look like punk rockers in the 70’s and 80’s and have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment we decided to name one new species after a punk icon. The name highlights the ‘hardcore’ nature of the Alviniconcha snail, that inhabit the hottest, most acidic and most sulphidic microhabitats at Indo-Pacific hydro-thermal vents.”
This newly discovered species resides as deep as 3505.2 meters below the surface of the ocean, in the toxic ecosystems that encompass hydro-thermal vents.
The complete study on this creature was published in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity, earlier this month. This paper also includes studies on five other newly discovered species of snails.
As odd and somewhat mildly entertaining as it is to learn about a snail named after a punk rock artist, it is not uncommon for scientists to name newly discovered animals after famous people or pop icons. Among many others, Lady Gaga has a type of plant named after her, Mic Jagger has an extinct breed of long legged pig and Neil Young has a spider named after him.
This strange trend of naming newly discovered species after iconic individuals is a device used by scientists to draw the public’s attention to their hard work.