Star Wars and the Naming of Things

Wockia chewbacca, named after the famous furry companion of Han Solo (public domain).

Choosing a name for a newfound species or group of organisms can be a rather daunting task. It should be no surprise that taxonomists and other scientists are sometimes heavily influenced by literature and popular culture when deciding on the perfect name for their research subject. In fact, the website curioustaxonomy.net specializes in documenting the various instances in which scientific nomenclature (the system of names and naming) has honored famous figures in history, mythology and even important places. In honor of Star Wars Day, which is celebrated on May 4th to allow for a fantastic pun, a link to an article listing animals that were named after characters or creatures in the Star Wars universe can be found here. And, as always, May the Fourth be with you!

The pit made by the spider Aptostichus sarlacc recalled the one housing the monster from Return of the Jedi (photo, Marshal Hedin, 2009, CC BY 2.0)

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