Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
Mark Isaak
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Etymology: Names from Fictional Characters

Classical Writings

Antigone Reichenbach, 1853 (crane)
Crito Distand, 1916 (leafhopper) named after a dialog by Plato.
Electra Lamouroux 1816 (bryozoan)
Gargantua Jullien, 1888 (bryozoan)
Gargantuavis philoinis Buffetaut and Le Loeuff, 1998 (huge Cretaceous flightless bird) This French fossil was named for one of the giants in Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. "Philoinis" means "wine-loving", which describes the original Gargantua but probably not the bird.
Grendelius McGowan, 1976 (Jurassic ichthyosaur) named for Beowulf's nemesis. Now synonymized with Brachypterygius.
Agra othello Erwin, 2000 (carabid)
Iago Compagno & Springer, 1971 (shark)
Oberonia Lindl. (1830) (fairy orchid) The array of tiny flowers on a stalk connected to a cluster of leaves evoked an image of a tiny carriage with a team of horses, suggesting Oberon, king of the fairies, driving through the branches. The genus Titania Endl. 1833 is now included in Oberonia, and Oberonia titania (Endl.) Lindl. pairs the king and queen of the fairies.
Ophelia (annelid)
Peneothello (robin) probably so named because the bird is mostly black ("pene" means "almost").
Pigrogromitus Calman, 1927 (sea spider), and
Queubus Barnard, 1946 (sea spider) Both species are named for imaginary characters fabricated by the Clown character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (II, iii). In a review of sea spiders ("The Pycnogonida of the Western North Atlantic and the Caribbean," Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 97: 157-342, 1948), Joel Hedgpeth wrote, "In sooth, we taxonomists are hard put to it to find names, but there have been far worse sources than the nonsense of Will Shakespeare."
Puck (anglerfish)
Oedipus rex (salamander)
Oedipodrilus oedipus Holt (worm)
Saguinus oedipus oedipus (cotton-top tamarin) According to a paper presented by A. J. Ginther and C. T. Snowdon at the 2004 American Society of Primatologists conference ("The Oedipal conflict in Saguinus oedipus"), these tamarins really do love their mothers (though the dams do not let them complete the process). Apparently, though, this behavior was not observed until after the species was named, perhaps for its big feet.
Ozymandias Jordan & Gilbert, 1919 (fossil fish)
Wukongopterus Wang et al., 2009 (Jurassic pterosaur) Named for Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, hero of the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West.

18th - 19th Century Writings

Agra eponine Erwin, 2000 (carabid) Named after the street urchin in Les Miserables "who, in the Broadway version of the story, personified tragic beauty. Such is the state of the tropical forests where these beetles live."
Akela Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (jumping spider) Named after a character in Kipling's The Jungle Book.
Bagheera kiplingi Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (Central American spider) Named for Rudyard Kipling and Bagheera, the black panther from Kipling's The Jungle Book. Ironically, it is the first known vegetarian spider.
Anchylorhynchus pinocchio De Madeiros & Nunez-Avellaneda, 2013 (weevil) because of its extremely long snout as compared with others of its genus. (The genus name translates as "crooked-snout".)
Litoria pinocchio Oliver et al. 2019 (treefrog) Males have "distintive fleshy rostral spikes." [ZooTaxa 4604(2)]
Walckenaeria pinocchio Kaston, 1945 (spider) Named for Carlo Lorenzini's prevaricating marionette in The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Balnibarbi Fortey (trilobite) Named for the abysmally inept technocracy in Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
Viola lilliputana Ballard & Iltis, 2012 (violet) One of the smallest terrestrial dicots; named for the tiny Lilliputians in Swift's Gulliver's Travels. [ZooKeys 430: 1]
Dryadella lilliputiana Cogniaux (orchid)
Salticus lilliputanus (jumping spider)
Peruphorticus gulliveri Erwin & Zamorano (ground beetle) The beetle's large size relative to others of its genus reminded the authors of Gulliver's travels in Lilliput.
Borogovia Osmólska, 1987 (theropod dinosaur) from "borogove", a mimsy creature from Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky".
Daggoo, Queequeg, and Tashtego Sime & Wahl, 2002 (ichneumonid wasps) named for the harpoonists in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. [Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 134: 1]
Albicetus Boersma and Pyenson, 2015 (Miocene whale) The genus name means "white whale", in reference to Melville's Moby Dick. The authors do not know the whale's skin color, but the bone is white, and the fossil, like its namesake, has a deformed lower jaw. [PLoS ONE 10(12): e0135551]
Desulforudis audaxviator Chivian et al. 2008 (sulfate-reducing bacterium) Found in water samples from 2.8 km underground in the Mponeng gold mine in South Africa; the only species known in its ecosystem. The name comes from a quotation from Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. The hero, Professor Lidenbrock, finds a secret Latin inscription that reads: "Descende, audax viator, et terrestre centrum attinges" (Descend, bold traveller, and you will attain the center of the Earth).
Dracula Luer 1978 (orchid) The orchid is blackish-red and looks like a bat. The genus includes many species, including Dracula vampira, Dracula nosferatu, and Dracula diabola. The species D. fafnir is named for a Norse giant who turned into a dragon to guard a horde of treasure. (The genus name has also been used erroneously for the pigeon genus Ducula.)
Liparis draculoides (another orchid)
Bradycneme draculae Harrison & Walker, 1975) (Cretaceous theropod)
Danionella dracula Britz (fish) a Burmese fish with "fangs" made of bone.
Deinocroton draculi Penalver, et.al., 2017 (Cretaceous tick) Found in amber; its morphology suggests it lived in nests of feathered dinosaurs. The genus means "terrible tick."
Desmodus draculae Morgan, Linares and Ray, 1988 (giant South American vampire bat, recently extinct).
Draculo Snyder, 1911 (dragonet fish)
Supraserphites draculi Rasnitsyn & Öhm-Kühnle 2019 (Cretaceous wasp) Because of its large mouthparts.
Hemignathus vorpalis James & Olsen 2003 (greater nukupu'u, an extinct Hawaiian finch) Named for the vorpal blade in Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky", due to its long upper bill.
Holorusia brobdingnagius (crane fly) Named for the Brobdingnags, a race of giants in Swift's Gulliver's Travels. According to Guinness, it is probably the world's largest crane fly, it has a wingspan of 4 inches, and its legs may spread almost 9 inches.
Ichabodcraniosaurus Novacek 1996 [nomen nudum] (dinosaur) Named for a character in Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It was found without a head; a head was found later, but it is uncertain whether the head belongs to the skeleton.
Agra ichabod Erwin, 2002 (carabid) "Refers to the fact that the holotype is missing its head and the illusion is that of the frightened schoolteacher Ichabod Crane's phantom nemesis, the Headless Horseman, in 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'...."
Laputa Whitley, 1930 (fish) and, more appropriately,
Laputavis Dyke, 2001 (Middle Eocene fossil swift) named for the floating castle in Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
Messua Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (jumping spider) Named after a character in Kipling's The Jungle Book.
Millerocaulis tekelili Vera, 2012 (Cretaceous fern) "Tekeli-li" was a cry of the Tsalalians, an Antarctic race in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. H. P. Lovecraft later make it an endlessly repated cry of the monstrous shoggoths, which lived in Antarctic caverns in At the Mountains of Madness. The fossil fern was discovered in Antarctica. [Alcheringa 36: 37]
Morlockia Garcia-Valdecasas, 1984 (cave-dwelling remipede crustacean) Named for the Morlocks, the subterranean subhumanoids in H.G. Well's The Time Machine.
Muscatheres Evenhuis, 1986 (bee fly) "There are only three Muscatheres known," referring to three specimens of the lone species, M. lurida (previously described in the genus Phthiria).
Nagaina Peckham and Peckham, 1896 (jumping spider) Named after a character in Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi."
Paramphientomum yumyum Enderlein, 1907 (psocopteran) Probably named after the character Yum-yum in Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado." This is not confirmed, but it is supported by the fact that the insect is native to Japan.
Phanuromyia princeps Nesheim and Phanuromyia pauper Nesheim and Masner, 2017 (wasps) Names inspired by Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper; P. pauper lacks longitudinal costae which decorate P. princeps. [ZooKeys 663: 71]
Poanes hobomok (Harris, 1862) (Hobomok skipper) Named for the Native American in Hobomok, a Tale of Early Times an 1824 novel by Lydia Maria Child.
Pseudione quasimodo Boyko & Williams, 2004 (parasitic isopod (Crustacea: Isopoda: Bopyroidea) found under the carapace of hermit crabs) Named for Victor Hugo's bell ringer of Notre Dame, as the parasite has a distinct bulge in dorsal view. (Boyko originally wrote in the manuscript that he "had a hunch" it was a new species, but the un-amused editor insisted that be stricken from the text.)
Semiramis Becker, 1913 (bombyliid fly) A story by Voltaire about a Babylonian queen.
Sirenoscincus mobydick Miralles et al., 2012 (skink) "The specific epithet refers to Moby Dick, the famous albino sperm whale imagined by Herman Melville (1851), with whom the new species shares several uncommon characteristics, such as the lack of hindlimbs, the presence of flipper-like forelimbs, highly reduced eyes, and the complete absence of pigmentation." [Zoosystema 34: 701]
Stylaclista quasimodo Early (diapriid wasp)
Tetragnatha quasimodo (Hawaiian spider) Named for the kyphotic bellringer in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Yogsothoth Shishkin & Zlatogursky, 2018 (centrohelid) "refers to Yog-Sothoth - the character of the novels and short stories of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, which was described as a conglomeration of glowing spheres." In the family Yogsothothidae. [Protist 169: 684]

20th - 21st Century Writings

Ampulex dementor Ohl, 2014 (cockroach wasp) Named after the Dementors of the Harry Potter books, which suck their prey's souls much like the wasp's venom neutralizes its victim's behavior.
Aname aragog Harvey et al., 2012 (trapdoor spider) Named after a giant spider from Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. [Zootaxa 3383: 15]
Lycosa aragogi Nadolny & Zamani, 2017 (wolf spider) Named after Aragog, from the "Harry Potter" series, which was based on a wolf spider. [Zootaxa 4286: 597]
Ochyrocera aragogue Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Aragog, a spider capable of communicating with humans and a lover of human flesh, from the literary classic 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', by J.K. Rowling."
Aquilonifer Briggs et al., 2016 (Silurian arthropod) Its tethered appendages, interpreted as juveniles held in a brooding behavior, inspired the name which translates literally as "kite-bearer", a reference to Khalid Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner.
Buratina Khramov, 2019 (Cretaceous neuropteran) "Named after Buratina, a long-nosed character of the science-fiction novel by Michael Kharitonov" [presumably The Golden Key, or the Adventures of Buratina].
Calumma tarzan Gehring et al., 2010 (chameleon) So named partly because it was found in what was known locally as the Tarzan Forest in Madagascar, and partly in hopes that the name, like Tarzan himself, will promote conservation of the species and the forest. [Salamandra 46: 167]
Cavisternum bom and Pelicinus tumpy Ranasinghe & Benjamin, 2018 (spiders) Bom and Tumpy are goblins in "The Goblin Looking-Glass" by Enid Blyton (1947).
Pelicinus snooky Ranasinghe & Benjamin, 2018 (spider) After the goblin and main character in "The Firework Goblins" by Enid Blyton (1971).
Ischnothyreus chippy, Silhouettella snippy and S. tiggy Ranasinghe & Benjamin, 2018 (spider) Named for brownies in the story "Billy's Little Boats" by Enid Blyton (1971). [Evolutionary Systematics 2: 65]
Cetiocaridae (extinct anomalocarid-like arthropods) The book All Your Yesterdays by C. M. Kosemen compiles artwork showing speculative but plausible ideas about extinct animals. It included the "Ceticaris", a hypothetical animalocarid-like suspension-feeder, drawn by John Mezsaros. The Cetiocaridae is named after it.
Cthulhu James and Keeling, 2012 (parabasalid, a flagellated protist termite symbiont) Named for the tentacled demon from the writings of H. P. Lovecraft. The protist's flagellar bundle is reminiscent of the demon.
Nanocthulhu lovecrafti Buffington, 2012 (wasp) "Cthulhu's is described as having 'a pulpy, tentacled head,' and the clypeal fuscina [on the front of the wasp's head] described herein is reminiscent of Cthulhu's head"; "nano-" refers to the wasp's small size; and H.P. Lovecraft, fiction author, created Cthulhu. [Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 114: 5]
Pimoa cthulhu Hormiga, 1994 (spider) Named after H. P. Lovecraft's evil god.
Sollasina cthulhu Rahman et al., 2019 (Silurian echinozoan) Because tentacles.
Cthylla James and Keeling, 2012 (parabasalid, a flagellated protist termite symbiont) In H. P. Lovecraft's writing, Cthylla was the secret daughter of Cthulhu. The protist is a smaller and simpler relative of the protist genus Cthulhu. [PLOS One 8(3) (2013)]
Ochyrocera atlachnacha Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Atlach-Nacha, a supernatural entity from Cthulhu mythology that resembles a huge spider with an almost human face."
Dracorex hogwartsia Bakker et al. 2006 (pachycephalosaur dinosaur) Named for Hogwarts School of Harry Potter fame. The genus means "dragon king." J. K. Rowling wrote, "I am absolutely thrilled to think that Hogwarts has made a small (claw?) mark upon the fascinating world of dinosaurs." The skull is on display at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
Eeyorius Paulin, 1986 (Australian fish) named for the donkey in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books. Like Eeyore, it lives in damp, dark places.
Eriovixia gryffindori Ahmed et al. 2016 (spider) Because the spider resembles the Sorting Hat from Rowling's Harry Potter books, it is named after Godric Gryffindor, the hat's original owner. "An ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives." [Indian J. Arach. 5: 25]
Irritator challengeri Martill, Cruikshank, Frey, Small & Clarke, 1996 (small theropod dinosaur) "challengeri" refers to Professor Challenger, a character from Doyle's The Lost World. The generic name came from the fact that inept Brazilian fossil collectors broke the skull in extracting it and rebuilt it incorrectly: "From irritation, the feeling the authors felt (understated here) when discovering that the snout had been artificially elongated".
Ituglanis macunaima Datovo & Landim, 2005 (catfish) "From the modernist Brazilian masterpiece by Mário de Andrade -- 'Macunaíma: o herói sem nenhum caráter' -- meaning the hero without any character, in reference of the absence of any exclusive (taxonomic) character for the new species. Mário de Andrade's Macunaíma was based in folk Amazonian indian myth, and also presents infantile features, in allusion to the paedomorphic characters of the new species." [Neotrop. Ichthyol. 3: 461]
Laelius arryni, L. baratheoni, L. lannisteri, L. martelli, L. targaryeni, L. tullyi, and L. starki Azevedo & Barbosa, 2014 (bethylid wasps) "The specific epithets of all new species are derived from some families of the book A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones [by George R. R. Martin]". [Zoologica (Curitiba) 31(3)]
Eadya daenerys Ridenbaugh, 2018 (wasp) Named for Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, from George R.R. Martin's books and the Game of Thrones TV series.
Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion Sarnat, Fischer & Economo, 2016 (ant) Named for dragons (one black, one cream and gold) of Daenerys Targaryen, a fictional character from the George R. R. Martin's novel A Song of Ice and Fire. [PLoS ONE, 11:e0156709]
Gymnetis drogoni, G. rhaegali and G. viserioni Ratcliffe, 2019 (scarabs) Named after "Game of Thrones" dragons because the beetles' orange markings suggested fire.
Ochyrocera varys Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Varys, a fictional character in George R. R. Martin's book, 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. Lorde Varys is a character with a venomous spirit, known as a spider in the plot."
Paramonovius nightking Li & Yeates, 2018 (bee fly) "This species is named after the Night King in the American fantasy drama Game of Thrones, because all the specimens were collected in winter and the fly is mostly covered in thick pale pruinescence." Also, the fly, like the fictional villain, turns its victims into zombies. [Austral Entomo. 58: 192.]
Tritonia khaleesi Silva et al. 2013 (sea slug) Its silvery back stripe suggested to the authors the platinum blonde hair style of Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen in the fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, as played by Emilia Clarke in the TV adaptation Game of Thrones.
Ledermanniella maturiniana Beentje, 2005 (a minute Kenyan waterweed, Podostemaceae) Named after Patrick O'Brian's character Doctor Stephen Maturin, an avid naturalist and pathetic sailor who often managed to fall off boats. Like him, this plant is often immersed.
Loraxichthys Salcedo, 2013 (catfish) Named for Lorax, the Dr. Seuss character who advocates for the environment; "Loraxichthys refers to the fish that speaks for other fishes." [Zootaxa 3640: 565]
Macrocarpaea apparata Grant & Struwe, 2003 (gentian) Named after the verb "to apparate" made popular in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. As a wizard apparating out of nowhere, this 12-foot high plant appeared to botanists on a misty hillside in southern Ecuador. (More info here) [Harvard Papers in Botany 8: 61]
Clevosaurus sectumsemper Klein et al., 2015 (triassic lizard) Named for the "sectumsempra" spell from Harry Potter novels, which causes an invisible sword to slash the victim, much as the reptile would slash with its sharp teeth. (Clevosaurus is named for Clevum, the Latin name of Gloucester.)
Ochyrocera charlotte Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Charlotte, the spider from the classic 'Charlotte's Web' by E.B. White and a great friend of the pig named Wilbur."
Ochyrocera misspider Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Little Miss Spider, a very popular spider around the world and the main character of the children's books by David Kirk."
See also O. aragogue, O. atlachnacha, O. varys, O. larcana, and O. ungoliant elsewhere in this section. [ZooKeys 726: 87]
Oileus gasparilomi Cano & Schuster, 2012 (bess beetle) "Named after Gaspar Ilóm, a native hero of the novel 'Men of Maize' by [literature Nobel prize-winner] Miguel Ángel Asturias. The collection locality is called 'mountains of Ilóm'." [Zookeys 194: 81]
Ozraptor subotaii Long & Molnar, 1998 (theropod dinosaur) Named after Subotai, a swift-running thief from Conan the Barbarian, whose behavior this dinosaur is supposed to have emulated. ("Oz" in the genus name comes from a colloquial abbreviation of Australia.)
Potamalpheops tigger Yeo & Ng, 1997 (shrimp) Named for Tigger, the tiger character in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books, because of "the bold striped appearance of freshly caught live specimens." [J. Nat. Hist. 31: 186.]
Savignia naniplopi Bosselaers and Henderickx 2002 (linyphiid spider) "The species is named after the gnome (Latin 'nanus') Plop, a popular character from children's stories whose cap is similar in shape to the male cephalic snout of the present species." [Zootaxa 109:3]
Theognete maturini Anderson, 2010 (weevil) Named for Stephen Maturin of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of British Royal Naval novels.
Tinkerbella nana Huber & Noyes 2013 (fairyfly) Named for characters from J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan": the fairy Tinkerbell, and Nana, the nurse.
Neolebouria tinkerbellae Thompson & Margolis, 1987 (microscopic trematode)
Pseudolucia hazeorum Bálint and Johnson, 1993 (lycaenid) Referring both to the hazy wing color and to the Haze family from Lolita. Nabokov himself was an expert on lycaenids, particularly the genus Pseudolucia, which he named. Other lycaenid names derive from Nabokov stories, too, including:
Madeleinea nodo, M. odon Bálint & Johnson, 1994 (lycaenid butterflies) Named after half-brothers in Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, reflecting their close relatedness. Madeleinea cobaltana Bálint & Lamas, 1994 is named for Kobalt, a mountain resort in Pale Fire.
Madeleinea lolita Bálint, 1993,
Pseudolucia charlotte, P. clarea Bálint and Johnson, 1993, P. humbert Bálint and Johnson, 1995 (lycaenids) Named after characters in Nabokov's Lolita.
Humbert humberti Sime & Wahl, 2002 (ichneumonid wasp) Named for Nabokov's Lolita pederast Humbert Humbert. [Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 134: 1]
Paralycaeides hazelea Bálint & Johnson, 1995 and P. shade Bálint, 1993 (lycaenids) After characters in Nabokov's Pale Fire.
Itylos pnin Bálint, 1993 for Professor Pnin.
Nabokovia ada Bálint & Lamas, 1994, for the title character, and Madeleinea ardisensis Bálint & Lamas, 1996 named after Ardis Hall, a place in Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle.
Thestral Faúndex & Rider, 2014 (pentatomid bug) Named for the thestrals, skeletal winged horses, from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The ivory carinae and calluses on the bug's back resemble the skeletal body. Also, thestrals cannot be seen by everyone, and few specimens of this insect have been found, even in well-sampled locations. [Zootaxa 3884: 395]
Trimeresurus salazar Mirza et al. 2020 (pit viper) Named for Salazar Slytherin, a co-founder of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (in Rowling's Harry Potter series) whose Parselmouth ability linked him to serpents.

Aleiodes adorabelleae, A. anguaae, A. atuin, A. binkyi, A. deathi, A. lipwigi, A. magratae, A. morti, A. ponderi, A. pteppicymoni, A. ridcullyi, A. rincewindi, A. stibbonsi, A. tmaliaae, A. vetinarii Butcher et al. 2012 (braconid wasps) - all names from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. [Zootaxa 3457]
Czekanowskia anguae Watson et al., 2001 (fossil gymnosperm) for Angua, she-werewolf and member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. "In tribute to the author Terry Pratchett OBE, all the new fossil plant species diagnosed and described in this paper are named for fictional characters who appear in his series of Discworld novels." [Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Geol.) 57: 29-82.] (This refers also to the eight entries which follow.)
Ginkgoites weatherwaxiae Watson et al., 2001 (fossil ginkgo) for Granny Weatherwax, a witch.
Ginkgoites nannyoggiae Watson et al., 2001 (fossil ginkgo) for Nanny Ogg, matriarch and witch.
Ginkgoites garlickianus Watson et al., 2001 (fossil ginkgo) for Magrat Garlick, witch and Queen of Lancre.
Phoenicopsis rincewindii Watson et al., 2001 (fossil gymnosperm) for Rincewind, an ineffective wizard of Unseen University.
Pseudotorellia vimesiana Watson et al., 2001 (fossil conifer) after Sir Samuel Vimes, commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
Sciadopityoides greeboana Watson et al., 2001 (fossil gymnosperm) After Greebo, Nanny Ogg's cat.
Sulcatocladus dibbleri Watson et al., 2001 (fossil conifer) for C.M.O.T. Dibbler, street vendor in Ankh-Morpork.
Torreyites detriti Watson et al., 2001 (fossil conifer) for Detritus, troll and member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.

Film Characters and Creatures

Adelopsis dumbo Gnaspini & Peck 2001 (leiodid beetle) Named for the big-eared cartoon elephant, because the beetle's aedeagus, which resembles an elephant proboscis, has at its tip a very large lateral projection resembling an ear.
Siphopteron dumbo Ong & Gosliner, 2017 (bat-winged slug) "refers to the similarity of this species to the Disney character, Dumbo the elephant, as it swims through the water." [Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 180: 755, doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlw018]
Agra lilu Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) Named for a character in the film "The Fifth Element".
Anelosimus biglebowski Agnarsson, 2006 (spider) "after the movie 'The Big Lebowski' of Joel and Ethan Coen." [Zootaxa 1147: 1]
Anelosimus dude Agnarsson, 2006 (spider) "after 'The Dude', a character in the movie 'The Big Lebowski'"
Aptostichus sarlacc Bond 2012 (trapdoor spider) The sarlacc is a creature from "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" which lives at the base of a sand pit, consuming people and animals that fall (or are thrown) in.
Axima sidi Arias-Penna et al., 2014 (stalk-eyed wasp) Named after Sid, a bulbous-eyed sloth from the "Ice Age" movies, because of his facial resemblance to the wasp. [Zootaxa 3866: 588]
Bambiraptor Burnham, Derstler, Currie, Bakker, Zhou & Ostrom, 2000 (theropod dinosaur) after Disney's Bambi, because of its small size. [U. Kansas Paleo contributions 13] (See also a dinosaur mailing list thread which includes much discussion of the appropriateness of the name.)
Begonia amidalae Lin et al. (begonia) Named after Padme Amidala. Silvery spots on the plant's dark leaves evoked a starry sky and inspired the name.
Xenokeryx amidalae Sánchez et al., 2015 (Miocene ruminant) Named after Queen Padme Amidala from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" because its horn (the genus name means "strange horn") resembles one of her hairstyles.
Cambroraster falcatus Moysiuk & Caron, 2019 (Cambrian radiodont) Named for its resemblance to the Millennium Falcon from the "Star Wars" franchise.
Celmus michaelmus Adrain & Fortey, 1997 (trilobite) Its abdominal apex looks like a Mouseketeer hat.
Ceraeochrysa michaelmuris Adams & Penny (lacewing) Its abdominal apex looks like a Mouseketeer hat.
Chloridops regiskongi James & Olson, 1991 (extinct Hawaiian finch) Described by a local journalist as "a real King Kong finch", thus the name.
Cystomastacoides kiddo Quicke & Butcher, 2013 (braconid wasp) Named after the assassin character Beatrix Kiddo in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films. [J. Hymenop. Res. 31: 65]
Darthvaderum Hunt, 1996 (oribatid mite) "Etymology: When I saw the SEM [scanning electron micrograph] of the gnathosoma I immediately thought of Darth Vader, evil antihero of Star Wars." [Records of the Australian Museum 48: 303-324]
Agathidium vaderi Miller and Wheeler, 2004 (slime mold beetle) Its head resembles Darth Vader's helmet.
Begonia darthvaderiana Lin et al. (begonia) It has leaves that are nearly black.
Polemistus vaderi Menke, 1983 (wasp)
Ricinus vaderi Valan, 2016 (louse) [Parasite 23: 6]
Diplacodon gigan Mihlbachler, 2011 (brontothere) From the etymology: "'Gigan' is a fictional giant horned monster first appearing in the 1972 Japanese film 'Godzilla versus Gigan' and other Godzilla films thereafter." [J. Vert. Paleo. 31: 202]
Eoperipatus totoro Oliveira et al., 2013 (velvet worm) "the species is named after the main character of the cartoon movie 'My Neighbour Totoro' by Hayao Miyazaki (1988, studio Ghibli), who uses a many-legged animal as a vehicle..." [Zoologischer Anzeiger 252: 495]
Godzillius Yager, 1986 (remipede crustacean) These are the largest such crustaceans, from underwater caves in the Bahamas. The family Godzilliidae takes its name from this genus.
Godzilliognomus Yager, 1989 (godzilliid) The smallest remipede. [Bull. of Marine Sci. 44(3):1195]
Gojirasaurus Carpenter, 1997 (theropod dinosaur) "Gojira" is the Japanese name for Godzilla (but the dinosaur was found in New Mexico).
Pleomothra Yager, 1989 (godzilliid) Named after Mothra. [Bull. of Marine Sci. 44(3):1195]
Gamerabaena Lyson and Joyce, 2010 (late Cretaceous turtle) Named for the Gamera, the giant Japanese film monster, and the family Baenidae of which it is a member.
Microgaster godzilla Fernandez-Triana et al. 2020 (parasitoid wasp) Named after Godzilla mainly because of the monster being an icon of Japanese culture (the wasp is from Japan); the wasp's hunting behavior also bears loose resemblance to Godzilla's emergence from water and his relationship with Mothra.
Sinemys gamera Brinkman & Peng, 1993 (Japanese fossil turtle) Named after the giant Japanese fire-breathing flying turtle. The fossil has wing-like projections from its shell.
Han solo Turvey 2005 (agnostid trilobite) Officially, the genus is named after the Han Chinese (the fossil is from northern Hunan Province, China), and the species is so named because it appears to represent the last surviving member of the Diplagnostidae. Really, Turvey's friends dared him to name a species after a Star Wars character, as most of the characters' names sound like scientific names. [Trans. Royal Soc. Edinburgh: Earth Sci. 95: 527-542]
Hirudicryptus quintumelementum Korsós et al. 2008 (millipede) As the fifth named species of the genus, it is named after the movie "The Fifth Element" ("Le cinquième élément", 1997). The head and collum of the new species also superficially resemble the alien custodians of the movie. [J. Nat. Hist. 43: 435]
Hortipes terminator Bosselaers & Jacque (spider) The male's palps resemble a "futuristic gun."
Ikrandraco avatar Wang et al., 2014 (Cretaceous pterosaur) Named for the Ikran, a flying creature from the movie Avatar which shows a well-developed dentary crest similar to the pterosaur's (+ draco, "dragon"). [Scientific Reports 4, no. 6329]
Maratus nemo Schubert, 2021 (peacock spider) So called because the male's coloring resembles that of the title character of the film "Finding Nemo".
Osedax jabba Rouse et al., 2018 (bone worm) "The trunk of the new species is reminiscent of the tail of the mythical creature Jabba the Hutt from the Star Wars franchise." [Zootaxa 4377: 476]
Peckoltia greedoi Armbruster, Werneke & M. Tan, 2015 (catfish) Named after Star Wars bounty hunter Greedo, whom it resembles. [ZooKeys 480: 97]
Polemistus chewbacca Menke, 1983 (wasp)
Trigonopterus chewbacca Van Dam & Riedel, 2016 (weevil) Its dense scales remind the authors of the Wookie's dense fur. [ZooKeys 582: 129]
Wockia chewbacca Adamski, 2009 (moth)
Predatoroonops Brescovit et al., 2012 (goblin spider) The spiders' chelicerae resemble the face of the Predator from the 1987 film of that name, hence the genus name. The 17 species described within the genus are all named after characters, actors, locations, and other names from the movie.
Prolatcyclus kindzadza Mychko et al. 2019 (Carboniferous cyclid crustacean) "In honor of the cult sci-fi dystopian tragicomedy Soviet film 'Kin-dza-dza!' directed by Georgiy Daneliya in 1986." [N. Jb. Geol. Paläont. Abh. 294: 88.]
Qrocodiledundee outbackense Fernandez-Triana & Boudreault (wasp) The name refers to the remote region of Australia where the wasp is found and to Crocodile Dundee, a movie character associated with such a region.
Ramisyllis kingghidorahi Aguado et al. 2022 (branching annelid) King Ghidorah was a three-headed, two-tailed monster enemy of Godzilla. Like the worm, it is from Japan and can regenerate its lost ends.
Shrekin Britto and Navia, 2007 (eriophyid mite) Named for the film cartoon character Shrek "because of the resemblance of the long, laterodorsal scapular tubercules to the long stalked ears of this character, plus -in, Latin diminutive suffix." [Internat. J. Acarol. 33:347-351]
Stormtropis Perafán et al., 2018 (spider) "... a Latin declension of the noun Stormtrooper from the fictional universe of the Star War films. . . . These soldiers are very similar to each other, with some capacity for camouflage but with unskillful movements, like this group of spiders." [ZooKeys 830:1]
Tetramorium jedi Hita Garcia & Fisher, 2012 (ant) Named for the Jedi of "Star Wars" fame. [Zootaxa 3592: 51]
Xenomorphia Krogmann et al. 2018 (fossil wasp) The wasps were discovered inside fossil fly pupae, having eaten their hosts from the inside out, a behavior similar to the Xenomorph alien of the Alien movie.
Dolichogenidea xenomorph Fagan-Jeffries & Austin, 2018 (wasp) The wasp lays eggs in a caterpillar, for its larvae to each the caterpillar from the inside out. [J. of Hymen. Res. 64:177]
Yoda Priede et al., 2012 (acorn worm) Named for Yoda of Star Wars fame because large lips at the worm's head resemble Yoda's ears. [Invert. Biol. 131: 244.]
Albunione yoda Markham & Boyko, 2003 (parasitic isopod (Crustacea: Isopoda: Bopyroidea)) This species, found under the carapace of sand crabs, also has large projectiog lateral flaps on the sides of its head that look like Yoda's ears.
Polemistus yoda Vincent, 1983 (wasp)
Trigonopterus yoda Riedel, 2019 (weevil) A small, greenish, forest-dwelling weevil. [ZooKeys 828:1]
Zuul crurivastator Arbour and Evans, 2017 (Cretaceous ankylosaurid dinosaur) Its head resembles Zuul, Gatekeeper of Gozer, a monster from the 1984 Ghostbusters. (The specific epithet means "destroyer of shins". Arbour said, "I had really wanted to use that for a long time, and I was saving it for a specimen with a really well preserved tail.") [Royal Society Open Science 161086]


Agra dax Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) Named for the character Jadzia Dax from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and dedicated to the actress, Terry Farrell.
Agra smurf Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) The name was inspired by the beetle's head shape.
Annuntidiogenes worfi Fraaije et al., 2009 (Cretaceous hermit crab) The ornament of this crab recalls the forehead of Star Trek's Mr. Worf. [Bol. Soc. Geol. Mex. 61: 13]
Conus tribblei Walls, 1977 (marine snail) Named after a pet cat named "Tribbles", which was named after the furry creatures from Star Trek. [The Pariah 1: 1-3.]
Elthusa xena van der Wal, 2019 (fish parasite isopod) "named after Xena, the warrior princess, in reference to the strong nature of the female cymothoid isopod." [ZooKeys 841: 1]
Eucteniza caprica Bond & Godwin, 2013 (trapdoor spider) "in reference to the humanoid cylon model Caprica 6, portrayed by Tricia Helfer in the remake of the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica." [ZooKeys356: 31]
Geragnostus waldorfstatleri Turvey 2005 (trilobite) The pygidium (tail) looks just like the heads of Waldorf and Statler of "The Muppet Show." [Trans. Royal Soc. Edinburgh: Earth Sci. 95: 527-542]
Ladella spocki Viegas, Benaim & Absãlo, 2014 (mussel) for Spock of Star Trek fame. "The overall shape of [the mussel's] valves resembles the shape of the pointed ear of the Vulcans ..." [Am. Malacological Bull. 32: 188-189.]
Mestoronema Wagner 1999 (fossil snail) Named after the evil snail king on a Dr. Who episode. [Smithsonian Contrib. to Paleobiology 88:1-154] (Turnabout is fair play; the writers for Dr. Who often took animal names for their monsters -- crinoids, mandrills, Mara, etc.)
Choeras zygon Fagan-Jeffries et al., 2019 (braconid wasp) Named after the Zygon race of aliens from Dr. Who because the Zygons, like the wasp larvae, consume their hosts while inhabiting them.
Cyclocardia dalek Pérez & del Río, 2017 (Cenozoic bivalve) Named after main villains of Doctor Who, "characterized by an armour with prominent circles, similar to the nodual external sculpture of this species."
Phanuromyia odo Nesheim, 2017 (wasp) Because of this species' variable morphology, it was named for a shape-shifting character from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. [ZooKeys 663: 71]
Spongiforma squarepantsii Desjardin, Peay & T.D. Bruns, 2011 (mushroom) This orange mushroom from Borneo was so unusual in its spongelike form, the researchers named it after Spongebob Squarepants, the world's most famous sponge. Additionally, its spore-producing area, under high magnification, resembles the seafloor where Spongebob lives.
Astrolirus patricki Zhang et al. 2020 (starfish) All specimens were found on sponges; the species is named after the character Patrick Star, who always spends time with his friend SpongeBob Squarepants.
Yada Yada (alphavirus) The virus infects only mosquitoes. Named after a catchphrase from Seinfeld, its discoverers say it just isn't very exciting (but, one adds, "Seinfeld is awesome").


Adetomyrma goblin Yoshimura & Fisher, 2012 (ant) Adults of this blind subterranean ant drink the hemolymph of their own larvae. Only the larvae can eat solid food.
Advhena Castello-Branco et al. 2020 (sponge) From Latin advena, "alien", because the sponge's shape resembles a popular Hollywood depiction of aliens. (The name Advena was already taken by a gastropod.)
Agra sasquatch Erwin, 1982 (carabid) with big feet.
Agra yeti Erwin, 1982 (carabid) sister species of A. sasquatch.
Mesocentrus sasquatch Butcher et al. 2014 (braconid wasp) from Papua New Guinea. It was not explained why that name was chosen. [Zootaxa 3860: 449]
Boana icamiaba Peloso et al., 2018 (gladiator frog) Named for the Icamiabas, a legendary female-only warrior tribe from Brazil. [S. Am. J. of Herp. 13(2)]
Cryptocellus icamiabas Tourinho & de Azevedo, 2007 (mite) Named for the Icamiabas, female warriors described in the chronicles of the Dominican friar Gaspar de Carvajal, which has been identified as source of the name of the Amazon River and the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The mite was discovered in Amazonas. [Zootaxa 1540: 56.]
Camelotia Galton, 1985 (Triassic prosauropod) from England; named for Camelot.
Campsicnemius uncleremus Evenhuis, 2000 (dolichopodid fly)
Chupacabrachelys complexus Lehman & Wick, 2010 (Cretaceous turtle) The chupacabra (Spanish for "goat sucker") is a creature of contemporary folk legend said to feed on livestock in the Texas-Mexico border area. The skull of Chupacabrachelys, to the authors, resembles a mangy coyote believed to be responsible for chupacabra sightings. The complexus epithet refers to "The Complex" tour of the Blue Man Group, which entertained the authors during their work.
Cibotium barometz (L.) J.Sm. (woolly fern) The barometz, or Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, was an imagined plant whose fruit grew into sheep which, while connected to the plant by an umbilical cord, grazed the area around it. Rhizomes growing up from a woolly common base of the actual fern can form the shape of an inverted lamb.
Cindarella Chen et al., 1996 (Cambrian arthropod) Named "for its phonetic similarity to Xandarella" (a similar Cambrian fossil), but likely influenced by the name of the folkloric woman. [Ramsköld et al. 1997, Trans. Royal Soc. Edinburgh Earth Sci. 88: 25.] Xandarella itself is the diminutive of Greek Xandaros, "a fabulous sea-monster" [Hou et al., Zool. Script. 20: 402].
Cinderella Steyskal, 1949 (heleomyzid fly)
Crocidura cinderella (Cinderella shrew) from Africa.
Teleocichla cinderella Kullander 1988 (cichlid) "Named with reference to the coloration, gray and black, producing an ashy appearance" [Copeia, 196-230].
Thylamys cinderella (Cinderella fat-tailed opossum) from NW Argentina.
Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva Grismer et al. 2021 (gecko) The Rukha Deva, in Thai folklore, are sylvan spirits which live in or on old trees.
Dracaena draco (dragon tree)
Dracaena and Draco (lizards)
Dracunculus (round worm) Named after "draco", dragon. D. medinensis is the largest tissue parasite of man (it can grow longer than 3 feet). It is possible to extract the worm by winding it slowly, over a period of days or weeks, around a stick. This may be the source of the physician's caduceus. D. medinensis is on WHO's hit list and may soon be eradicated.
Dragonana (leafhopper)
Kryptodrakon Andres, Clark & Xu, 2014 (Jurassic pterosaur) Translation: "Hidden dragon"; so named because it was found in the area where "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was filmed.
Dendrobium nagataksaka Metusala (orchid) "... 'naga' means dragon, and 'taksaka' is the name of the ancient Indian, Javanese and Balinese mythical dragon. It refers to the shape of the flower which has erect petals and long protruding lip resembling the dragon’s head with long horns and long lip."
Qilianglong Xing et al., 2015 (Jurassic Sauropod) meaning "dragon from Qijiang".
Eviulisoma nessiteras Enghoff, 2018 (millipede) "Nessiteras is the genus name given to the famous Loch Ness Monster, and the dorsal lobe of the solenophore of E. nessiteras sp. nov. resembles the most famous photograph of the alleged monster sticking its long neck out from the lake surface." [Eur J Taxon. 445:40]
Gargoyleosaurus Carpenter, Miles, & Cloward, 1998 (ankylosaurid dinosaur)
Goniacodon hiawathae Van Valen, 1978 (paleocene mammal) for Hiawatha, legendary founder of the Iriquois League.
Kikimora palustris Eskov, 1988 (spider) Kikimora is a dangerous female spirit in Slavic mythology who lives in marshes. "Palustris" means "of a marsh." [Zoologicheskyj Zhurnal 67: 678 (in Russian)]
Lathrobium hibagon Senda, 2020 (rove beetle) Named after the Hibagon, a Japanese equivalent of a Bigfoot or yeti. Sightings, which began in the 1970s, occur mainly in the Mt. Hiba-yama area, the type locality of this species. [Jap. J. of Syst. Entomo. 26: 186.]
Leprechaunus (treehopper)
Merlinia (trilobite) Named for King Arthur's wizard
Metapheretima durendali and M. excaliberi Easton, 1979 (earthworms) Durendal was the sword of Roland; Excalibur, of King Arthur. (See more sword eponyms in the Tolkien section below.)
Excalibosaurus McGowan, 1986 (Jurassic ichthyosaur) Named after King Arthur's sword. Excalibosaurus has a swordlike upper jaw, and it was found in Britain's west country, the place of the emergence of Excalibur.
Lemur Linnaeus, 1758 (lemur) From Latin leumures, zombie-like ghosts which the Romans supposed ultimately would haunt the world at night. The name was first applied to the slender lorises of India, inspired by their slow movement and nocturnal habits. Its meaning later narrowed to just the Malagasy primates.
Lusitanipus xanin Gilgado, 2020 (millipede) A Xanín is a goblin-like creature said to inhabit the Spanish forests where the millipede was found. Like the millipede, the Xanín is small, lives in the shade, and tries to hide.
Monstera Adans. (tropical vine) A cultivated species with edible fruit has the ironic name Monstera deliciosa.
Mucha tzokotucha Ozerov, 1992 (fly: Sepsidae) Named for a fly character in a famous Russian folktale. "Mucha" means "fly", and "tzokotucha" is the character's nickname for himself; apparently it has no further meaning.
Paroxyna babayaga Hering, 1938 (tephritid fruit fly) Named for the ugly Russian folklore monster Babayaga.
Polypterus mokelembembe Schafer and Schliewen 2006 (freshwater fish called bichir or reedfish) Named for the cryptozoological Congolese dinosaur-like creature Mokele-mbembe (featured, e.g., in the Disney movie "Baby"). The bichirs have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and this particular species comes from the Congo. [Zootaxa 1129: 25-36]
Prosopanche demogorgoni Funez (forb) So called because its flower resembles the fictional demogorgon monster, presumably as depicted on Netflix's "Stranger Things," although that monster is usually depicted with five sepals, and the flower has three.
Protomelas krampus Dierickx & Snoeks, 2020 (fish) Named for the European folklore character Krampus, who puts naughty children in a bag and takes them away, because this fish feeds on eggs and larvae of other fish. The goat-like appearance of Krampus also evokes to the fish's butting behavior.
Samrukia Naish et al. 2011 (Cretaceous bird) Named for the Samruk, a magical bird of Kazakh folklore.
Sanctacaris Briggs & Collins, 1988 (fossil primitive chelicerate) Literally "Santa claws" [see Gould, Wonderful Life, p. 186-187]
Selenochlamys ysbryda Rowson & Symondson, 2008 (ghost slug from Wales). The species name is Latinised from the Welsh ysbryd (meaning ghost or spirit), referring to the fact that it is rarely seen, is white in color, and is nocturnal.
Smok wawelski Niedzwiedzki, Sulej and Dzik, 2011 (Triassic archosaur) Named for Smok wawelski (the dragon of Wawel Hill), a famous dragon in Polish folklore.
Tarascosaurus salluvicus Le Loeuff & Buffetaut, 1991 (Cretaceous theropod) Named for the Tarasque, a medieval legendary dragon from Provence, France. The Salluvii were an ancient Gallic tribe in the area near Marseilles.
Taraschelon Pérez-García, 2016 (Oligocene tortoise) Also named after the Tarasque.
Tetramorium elf Hita Garcia & Fisher, 2012 (ant)
Thitarodes shambalaensis Wang et al. 2019 (moth) Named for Shambala of Tibetan tradition, the mythical kingdom hidden in the mountains, referring to the species' alpine habitat under Mt. Gongga.
Troglocladius hajdi Andersen et al., 2016 (midge) This midge, 1,431 meters deep in a cave in southern Croatia, the only blind cave insect that flies, is named after the Hajdi, winged cave-dwelling dwarf-like creatures from Slavic mythology. [PLoS ONE 11(4)]
Tsoabichi Brochu, 2020 (Eocene alligatorid) From Shoshone tso'abichi', "monster", in reference to the species occurring in traditionally Shoshone territory. [J. Vert. Paleo. 30: 1109.]
Vampyrodes (South American bat), Vampyressa (South American bat), Vampyrum (false vampire bat) The last is also misnamed, for it does not feed on blood.
Vampyrellidae (protist)
Drepanomenia vampyrella (Heath, 1905) (solenogaster mollusc)
Pteropus vampyrus (giant Malaysian fruit bat)
Rhacophorus vampyrus (frog)
Vouivria Mannion et al. 2017 (Jurassic brachiosaur) "The generic name is derived from the old French word 'vouivre', itself from the Latin 'vipera', meaning 'viper'. In Franche-Comté, the region in which the holotype was discovered, 'la vouivre' (=the wyvern) is a legendary winged reptile. In the homonym novel written by the great French author Marcel Aymé, 'La Vouivre' is a beautiful woman who lives in the swamps in the neighbourhood of Dôle (Franche-Comté) and protects a spectacular ruby."

J. R. R. Tolkien

(See also "Named after Writers")
Aletodon mellon (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammal) "mellon," Elvish for "friend," was the password into Moria.
Ancalagon Conway Morris, 1977 (Cambrian priapulid) From a dragon from Tolkien.
Ankalagon Van Valen, 1980 (Paleocene mesonychid mammal) Renamed from Ancalagon because it was preoccupied.
Anisonchus eowynae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of A. athelas Van Valen 1978) for Éowyn, Princess of Rohan. "Athelas" was a Middle Earth healing plant, used to cure Éowyn.
Aspidoras azaghal Tencatt et al. 2020 (catfish) Named after a First Age dwarf.
Aspidoras psammatides Britto et al. 2005 (fish) "Named after 'Psammatos psammatides' [Psamathos Psamathides], the sand sorcerer, a characer of the J.R.R. Tolkien's book Roverandom, from the Greek psammos, meaning sand, and ides, meaning son of. In allusion to the sand-dwelling behavior of the species.
Asthenodipsas lasgalenensis Loredo et al. 2013 (Mirkwood forest slug snake) "The specific epithet lasgalenensis is derived from the name Eryn Lasgalen which means in the 'Wood of Greenleaves' in the fictional Sindarian language from J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1955). It was the name used by the Wood Elves for the Mirkwood Forest after its cleansing following the War of the Ring. This name was chosen because Tolkien's (1955) description of this forest showed great similarity to the cloudy, upland forests within which this species is found.
Balinia Hedqvist, 1978 (chalcidoid wasp) Named after Balin, a dwarf.
Balrogia Hedqvist, 1977 (pteromalid wasp)
Anthracosuchus balrogus Hastings et al. 2014 (Paleocene crocodyliform) Found in a coal mine (Anthracosuchus means "coal crocodile"), this giant croc was named after the Balrog, another fearsome being which lived in a mine.
Semicytherura balrogi Brouwers, 1994
Beorn Cooper, 1964 (fossil tartigrade) Named after the man/bear character Beorn from The Hobbit.
Beornia Hedqvist, 1975 (wasp)
Bofuria Hedqvist, 1978 (pteromalid wasp) Named after Bofur, a dwarf from The Hobbit.
Bomburia Hedqvist, 1978 (pteromalid wasp) for Bombur
Bomburodon (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammal) formerly named Bomburia, but Hedqvist's wasp had priority.
Borophagus orc Webb, 1969 (Pliocene canid) (Formerly in genus Osteoborus)
Bubogonia bombadili and Protoselene bombadili (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammals) after Tom Bombadil, "a simple, powerful, and very old being."
Claenodon mumak (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammal) after Mûmak, the Middle Earth elephant-like creature, referring to size.
Desmatoclaenus mearae (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene condylarth) "Meara, any one of the great horses of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings."
Durinia Hedqvist, 1978 (chalcidoid wasp) Named after Durin, a dwarf.
Deltatherium durini Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) Several notable Dwarves were named Durin.
Dvalinia Hedqvist, 1977 (pteromalid wasp) Named after Dwalin, a dwarf from The Hobbit, or after Dvalinn, a dwarf from Norse mythology.
Earendil undomiel Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) "Eärendil, [father of Elrond], who, (in the Silmarillion) sailed with a silmaril to get the aid that defeated Morgoth", and "Quenya (Elvish), undómiel, evening star, which Eärendil with his silmaril became."
Elachista amrodella, E. aredhella, E. caranthirella, E. curufinella, E. daeronella, E. diorella, E. finarfinella, E. gildorella, E. indisella, E. maglorella, E. miriella, E. turgonella (Kaila 1999) (moths) Named after elves from Tolkien, respectively: Amrod (Amras' twin), Aredhel (The White Lady of Gondolin), Caranthir, Curufin, Daeron (Chief loremaster of Doriath), Dior (King of Doriath), Finarfin (Noldor King in Aman), Gildor Inglorion (High-Elf of Eriador & Imladris), Indis, Maglor, Miriel, Turgon (Lord of Nevrast, then Gondolin). Kaila mentions that Elves "one after other sailed over the water to the West, and were later difficult to see with human eyes," alluding to the studied moths, which are very inconspicuous and have spread to Nearctic areas. [Acta Zool. Fennica 211]
Entia Hedqvist, 1974 (wasp) Named after the Ents. But it is a junior synonym of Boucekastichus, hence the latter is the accepted name.
Feanora De Clerck & Schockaert, 1995 (turbellarian flatworm) from Fëanor, a personage from the Silmarillion.
Fimbrethil ambaronae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Oxyacodon agapetillus (Cope 1884)) Fimbrethil was an Ent-maiden; Ambaróna was a name for the Ents' forest.
Frodospira Wagner 1999 (Silurian gastropod) A small genus named after a certain hobbit. [Am. Malacological Bull. 15:1-31]
Macrostyphlus frodo Morrone, 1994 (Andean weevil)
Psylla frodobagginsi Martoni & Armstrong, 2019 (psyllid) So named because it is smaller than most psyllids (as hobbits are smaller than humans), and because it was found in New Zealand where P. Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies were mostly filmed.
Gandalfia Willems et al. 2005 (platyhelminth)
Macrostyphlus gandalf Morrone, 1994 (Andean weevil) [This and M. frodo are from American Museum Novitates 3104: 1-63.]
Gervasiella oakenshieldi Paladini & Cavichioli, 2015 (spittlebug) for Thorin Oakenshield.
Gildoria Hedqvist, 1974 (wasp) Named after Gildor Inglorion, an elf.
Gimlia Hedqvist, 1978 (chalcidoid wasp) Named after Gimli, a dwarf.
Nebela gimlii Singer & Lara, 2015 (amoeba) referring to the dwarf Gimli because of its small size and stout shape. "In addition, it has been found abundantly in a forest, and Gimli was unique among his kind to have been travelling in the woods."
Gollum Compagno, 1973 (catshark)
Gollumia Riedel, 1988 (snail)
Gollumiella Hedqvist, 1978 (chalcidoid wasp)
Gollumjapyx smeagol (dipluran hexapod)
Aenigmachanna gollum Britz et al. 2019 (fish) The first known subterranean species of its family.
Galaxias gollumoides (fresh-water fish) Named after Gollum because it has large eyes and was found in a swamp.
Goniurosaurus gollum Qi et al. 2020 (cave gecko)
Ingerophrynus gollum Grismer 2007 (Mayasian toad) So named for its likeness to the fictional amphibious character. [J. Herp. 41: 225]
Gwaihiria Nauman (diapriid wasp) Named for Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles.
Khamul gothmogi Gates, 2008 (eurytomid wasp) Named after Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs.
Helferella gothmogoides Williams & Weir, 1988 (beetle)
Khamul Gates, 2008 (eurytomid wasp) Named after Khaml, the Shadow of the East, the only Nazgul specifically named by J. R. R. Tolkien. [Zootaxa 1898: 25]
Legolasia Hedqvist, 1974 (wasp) Named after the elf Legolas.
Liolaemus tulkas Quinteros et al. 2008 (lizard) "in the mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien, 'Tulkas' is one of the ainur or powers that helped shape arda or middle earth. One of the characteristics of Tulkas is that of running faster than any other creature. Liolaemus tulkas is very fast in short sprints."
Litaletes ondolinde Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) for Ondolindë, an Elven city.
Lotharingius frodoi Mattioli, 1996 (coccolithophore) after Frodo.
Metapheretima kilii, M. dorii Easton, 1979 (earthworms) Presumably named after the dwarves Kili and Dori from The Hobbit. (Easton provides no etymologies.)
Metapheretima elrondi Easton, 1979 (earthworm) Presumably named after Elrond, Lord of Rivendell.
Metapheretima anduril, M. stingi, M. orcrista, and M. glamdringi Easton, 1979 (earthworms) Named for Anduril, re-forged sword of Aragorn; Sting, elven knife of Bilbo and later Frodo Baggins; Orcrist, elven sword of Thorin Oakenshield, and Glamdring, elven sword of Gandalf. (See also two more sword eponyms in the Folklore section.) [Bull. Brit. Mus. Zoology series 35: 1]
Mimotricentes mirielae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Loxolophus hyattianus (Cope, 1885)) after Míriel, an Elf.
Mimatuta morgoth Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) for the "dark enemy of the world." Reference is to the Hell Creek Formation.
Mimatuta minuial Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) "minuial" is Elvish for dawn's twilight. Reference is to the dawn of the Cenozoic.
Mithrandir Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) one of the names of the wise wizard Gandalf. "Reference is to the subtleness of the differences between the subgenera."
Nazgulia Hedqvist, 1973 (chalcidoid wasp) Named after the Nazgul.
Abavorana nazgul Quah et al. 2017 (frog)
Tetramorium nazgul and T. smaug Hita Garcia & Fisher, 2012 (ants)
Niphredil radagasti Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, now in genus Paleotomus) Niphredil is a small Middle Earth flower. Radagast the Brown was a wizard.
Ochyrocera laracna Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Laracna, a giant and very old spider created by J. R. R. Tolkien in the classic book 'The Lord of the Rings'."
Ochyrocera ungoliant Brescovit et al. 2018 (spider) "refers to Ungoliant, an evil spider spirit created by J. R. R. Tolkien in the book 'The Silmarillion'."
Odontonia bagginsi de Gier & Fransen, 2018 (shrimp) Like the hobbits, the shrimp has hairy feet.
Oinia Hedqvist, 1978 (chalcidoid wasp) Named after Óin, a dwarf.
Oxyprimus galadrielae Van Valen, 1978 (arctocyonid Paleocene mammal) for elf Lady Galadriel.
Pseudophallus galadrielae Dallevo-Gomes et al. 2020 (pipefish) Named after Galadriel, Queen Elf from Lord of the Rings. "The elf ruler of Lothlórien is bearer of the ring Nenya, also known as the ring of water. It is used herein in reference to the additional bony rings diagnostic of the new species and its association with freshwater habitats." [Zootaxa 4859: 95]
Paradzickia morwen Blagoderov, 1998 (fungus gnat) After the character Morwen.
Paradzickia hador Blagoderov, 1998 (fungus gnat) After the character Hador.
Paragiopagurus hobbiti (Macpherson, 1983) (hermit crab)
Peperomia hobbitoides T. Wendt, 2003 (piper plant) "Peperomia hobbitoides is a small and humble plant that lives in an almost fairyland-like environment of wet karst outcrops in rain forest, and it is strongly and faithfully tied to this home substrate. Indeed, it spends perhaps the greater part of the year in holes and depressions in the rock as a resting tuber. It is edible, an attribute of high esteem among hobbits. And, like the hobbits, its home is under threat by forces much larger than itself, in this case forest clearing . . ." [Lundellia 6: 37]
Saurodocus hobbit Yerman & Krapp-Schickel, 2008 (amphipod)
Syconycteris hobbit Ziegler, 1982 (moss-forest blossom bat) "The specific name is an appositive noun, alluding to certain analogies between the newly described species and another seldom-seen forest form, described by Tolkien (1937), one of whose chief distinguishing characteristics was also a thickly haired pes."
Pericompsus bilbo Erwin (carabid) for the title character of The Hobbit. So called because "it was short, fat, and had hairy feet."
Platymastus palantir Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) "... one of 7 globes made by Fëanor that gave visions through spacetime. Reference is to the long duration of the genus."
Protungulatum gorgun Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) "gorgûn" is a term for Orcs.
Sauron Eskov, 1995 (spider) Though found in the Saur Mountain range (Kazakhstan), the name is derived from the Tolkien character.
Sauroniops Cau et al., 2012 (Cretaceous theropod dinosaur) The name refers to the "Eye of Sauron"; the dinosaur is known only from a single bone above the eye socket.
Litoria sauroni Richards & Oliver, 2006 (frog) From Tolkien's Sauron, "in reference to the striking red and black mottled eye of this taxon."
Macropsis sauroni Hamilton, 1972 (leafhopper)
Semicytherura tauron Brouwers, 1994 "After Tauron, a character in J.R.R. Tolkien's adventures of Middle Earth."
Shireplitis Fernandez-Triana & Ward, 2013 (braconid wasp) Named after the Shire (and the related genus Paroplitis); endemic to New Zealand. Species within the genus are: S. bilboi, S. frodoi, S. meriadoci, S. peregrini, S. samwisei, and S. tolkieni.
Smaug Stanley et al., 2011 (cordylid lizard) Smaug is the name of the dragon in The Hobbit. "According to Tolkien the name is derived from the Old German verb smeugen -- to squeeze through a hole. Like the type species, Smaug lived underground and was heavily armored. Appropriately Tolkien was born in the Free State province, South Africa, the core area of distribution of the type species." [Mol. Phylo. Evo. 58: 53]
Liolaemus smaug Abdala et al. 2010 (lizard) "In Tolkien's mythology Smaug, the Golden, is the last of the Middle Earth dragons. The name Liolaemus smaug is because this new species exhibit a golden coloration on body." [Cuad. herpetol. 24]
Planois smaug Carvajal, Faúndez, and Rider, 2015 (shield bug) Named after the dragon because of its large size, because it had been "sleeping" in collections for about 60 years, and because its natural habitat resembles Middle Earth.
Pycnophyes smaug Sánchez et al. 2013 (kinorhynch)
Smeagol Climo, 1980 (gastropod, family Smeagolidae) Smeagol was Gollum's original name.
Smeagolia Hedqvist, 1973 (pteromalid wasp)
Iandumoema smeagol Pinto-da-Rocha et al. 2015 (cave harvestman) One cave-dweller named after another.
Thangorodrim thalion Van Valen (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Oxyclaenus Cope 1884) "Thangorodrim, the mountainous triple fortress of Morgoth in The Silrnarillion. Reference is to Purgatory Hill [where the fossil was collected]." Specific epithet "Sindarin (Elvish) thalion, strong. Reference is to the massive morphology and the generic name."
Tinuviel Van Valen (Paleocene mammal) for a most beautiful elf. The name is Elvish for nightingale.
Yavanna Vera, 2013 (Cretaceous tree fern) In Tolkien's Silmarillion, Yavanna is a godlike Ainur who created the plants and animals of Middle Earth.

Comics and Manga

Batman Whitley, 1956 (Australian fish) Refers to a similarity between this fish's dorsal fin and the "bats" with which servicemen used to signal approaching aircraft on a carrier, rather than the famous Dark Knight of the graphic novels. Batman has now been replaced with the older Cryptocentrus.
Otocinclus batmani Lehmann, 2006 (catfish) is named after the caped crusader, because of a bat-shaped mark on its tail. [Neotropical Ichthyology 4: 379]
Campsicnemus popeye Evenhuis, 2013 (fly) So named because its enlarged tibia resemble the bulging forearms of the cartoon character Popeye.
Cirrhilabrus wakanda Tea et al. 2019 (vibranium fairy wrasse) Named for the fictional home of the superhero Black Panther, which remained hidden from the world for a long time. The common name "refers to the fictional metal vibranium, a rare substance found on Wakanda that is woven into Black Panther's suit. The purple chain-link scale pattern of the new species is reminiscent of this detail." [ZooKeys 863: 85-96]
Cremnops wyleycoyotius Tucker et al. 2015 (wasp) Named after J. Wiley, who collected the specimen, and the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote because it "sneakily (like the well-known canine) remained undescribed until now."
Daptolestes bronteflavus, D. feminategus, D. illusiolautus Robinson & Yeates, 2020, and Humorolethalis Robinson, Li & Yeates, 2020 (robber flies) All have Marvel universe names. Thor's fly, D. bronteflavus, means "blonde thunder." Loki's fly, D. illusiolautus, means "elegant deception." Black Widow's fly, D. feminategus, means "woman wearing leather." Deadpool's fly, Humorolethalis sergius, is from Latin for "wet and dead." Deadpool's fly shares his mask markings. (The authors erected a new genus for Deadpool's fly, which previously was known as Daptolestes sergius (Walker).) See also Stan Lee's fly, D. leei.
Eubetia boop Brown (tortricid moth)
Gekko hulk Grismer et al. 2022 (gecko) referring to The Incredible Hulk, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. Like its namesake, the gecko becomes a large, green, strong, aggressive beast when angry.
Hypocaccus kidpaddlei Gomy 2007 (histerid beetle) Named for Kid Paddle, a Franco-Belgian comic, because the beetle looks like a "blork", a moster from the Kid Paddle videogame universe. [Nouvelle Revue d'Entomologie (N.S.), 24(2): 125]
Kalelia Pé & del Río, 2017 (Paleocene bivalve) "The name honors Kal-El, Kryptonian name of Superman, the first superhero in comic books. This genus is one of the oldest and largest alticostate carditids." [J. Paleo. 69]
Kariridraco dianae Cerqueira et al. 2021 (Cretaceous pterosaur) Referring to Diana Prince, alter ego of Wonder Woman.
Lepidopa luciae Boyko, 2002 (sand crab (Crustacea: Anomura: Albuneidae)) Boyko originally thought to name it for cartoonist Charles Schulz ("Peanuts") but Schulz's wife had the bright suggestion to name it for Lucy van Pelt as her character was known for being crabby. The monograph in which it is described includes an appropriate "Peanuts" strip.
Nemesia shenlongi Pertegal et al. 2022 (trapdoor spider) Named after the wish-granting dragon Shenlong from the Japanese Dragon Ball franchise.
Ninjemys Gaffney, 1992 (fossil turtle) Etymology: "Ninja, in allusion to that totally rad, fearsome foursome epitomizing shelled success; emys, turtle."
Scelio dupondi and Scelio janseni Yoder, 2014 (parasitic wasps) Named for the Thomson and Thompson twin detectives in Tintin comics (Dupond and Dupont in French, Jansen and Janssen in Dutch). The two were always being confused with one another.
Thanos Delcourt & Vidoi Iori, 2018 (theropod dinosaur) The genus is derived both from the Greek word thanato, "death", and the Marvel Comics villain Thanos. [Historical Biology, DOI:10.1080/08912963.2018.1546700]
Trigonopterus asterix, T. idefix, and T. obelix Riedel, 2019 (weevils) Named after characters from the French Asterix comics. [ZooKeys 828:1]

Video and Role-playing Games

Abaddon despoliator Derkarabetian, 2021 (opilionid) Refers to Abaddon the Despoiler, a characters from Warhammer 40,000.
Aerodactylus Vidovic & Martill, 2014 (Jurassic pterosaur) Named after the Pokémon Aerodactyl.
Binburrum articuno, B. moltres, and B. zapdos Hsiao & Pollock, 2020 (beetles) Named after rare Pokemon, befitting the rarity of the beetles.
Chilicola charizard Monckton, 2016 (bee) Named after the Pokémon Charizard.
Cortana Salvador & Simone, 2013 (Paleocene land gastropod) Named after the character Cortana from the HALO video-game series, alluding to markings on the shell surface. [Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 53: 16.]
Crash bandicoot Travouillon et al. 2014 (Miocene bandicoot relative) Named after the video game character Crash Bandicoot, with an allusion to "a new radiation of more modern bandicoots that 'crashed' through to dominate younger, drier ecosystems of Australia." [J. Vert. Paleo. 34: 377.]
Demyrsus digmon Hsiao & Oberprieler, 2020 (weevil) Named after the Digimon Digmon; both the weevil and the digital monster have an ability to drill.
Euconnus hosakae Hoshina, Fukutomi, & Watanabe, 2020 (rove beetle) Dedicated to Miss Miyuki Hosaka, heroine of the Japanese computer game Sentimental Graffiti; she is from the type locality, Kanazawa City.
Galagadon Gates et al. 2019 (Cretaceous shark) Named after the 1980s video game Galaga because the shark's stepped triangular teeth resembled spaceships in that game.
Halystina umberlee Salvador, Cavallari & Simone, 2014 (gastropod) Named after a deep sea goddess from the Faerûnian pantheon in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. [Zootaxa 3878: 536.]
Rapturella ryani Salvador & Cunha, 2016 (gastropod) Named for Rapture, the deep-sea city from the science-fiction video game BioShock, and Andrew Ryan, its founder. [J. Molluscan Studies 6-9.]
Rotundicardia mariobrosorum Pé & del Río, 2017 (Paleocene bivalve) "The specific epithet honors Mario and Luigi, the Mario Bros. brothers, main characters from the popular videogame Mario Bros., in which they collect mushrooms, and it is a reference to the 'funginate' nodes of the radial ribs in this species." [J. Paleo. 69]
Stentorceps weedlei Nielsen & Buffington (wasp) Named for the Weedle, a hymenopteran larva from the Pokémon video game series. "Weedle shares the distinguishing character of S. weedlei, a spine in the middle of its head."


Bidenichthys beeblebroxi Paulin, 1995 (triple-fin blenny) with a false head pattern.
Erechthias beeblebroxi Robinson & Nelson, 1993 (tineid) with a false head; after Zaphod Beeblebrox, two-headed character from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Babelichthys Davesne, 2017 (Eocene crestfish) Named for the Babelfish from Douglas Adams' books mostly because it is weird-looking.
Fiordichthys slartibartfasti Paulin, 1995 (brotulid, a deep-sea fish) Named for Hitchhiker's Guide character Slartibartfast, who is noted for designing fjords.
Medusaceratops lokii Ryan, Russell & Hartman, 2010 (Cretaceous ceratopsan) Named after the Medusa specifically from Ray Harryhausen's "Clash of the Titans", for the "snake-like, rocky appendages coming out the back of its skull"; and after the Loki supervillian from Marvel comics, who was drawn with a helmet with two giant curved horns.
See also Mexicope sushara in Interesting Translations.

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