It's no secret that many scientists are great fans of science fiction, and sometimes tributes to characters and authors end up in their work. We list 30 species, alive and extinct, that bear scifi-themed names.
Otocinclus batmani (Batman)
In 2007, ichthyologist Pablo Lehmann named a newly discovered species of catfish after the caped crusader. Why? Because, if you look closely at the tail, you can see the Bat Symbol. Now visitors flock to Loon Lake in Antioch, Illinois each summer to try to catch the fish.
Tarbosaurus efremovi (Ivan Yefremov)
Soviet writer Ivan Yefremov is most famous for his works of science fiction (most notably the communist utopian novel Andromeda Nebula), but he was also a paleontologist. Perhaps that's why a Russian paleontologist named this species of Tarbosaurus (a near cousin of the Tyrannosauri) after the author.
Arthurdactylus conandoylei (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Writing a book about dinosaurs is a good way to get a reptile named after you, even if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to wait 82 years after the publication of The Lost World for it to happen. In 1994, paleontologist Eberhard Frey and David Matrill named an entire genus of pterosaur after the author, who described a similar creature in his novel.
Irritator Challengeri (Professor Challenger)
A second dinosaur named for The Lost World, I. challengeri is named for Doyle's irritable dilettante Professor Challenger. Perhaps appropriately, I. challengeri could have eaten A. conandoylei for breakfast; a fossilized tooth from its genus was once discovered lodged in a pterosaur's neck.
Draculoides bramstokeri (Bram Stoker)
If you're going to name a critter after the author of Dracula, it had better be a bloodsucker. This Australian arachnid is known for its fang-like pedipalps, which it uses to grab and crush prey before sucking out their tasty juices. As an added bonus, this sucker lives in the darkness of caves.
Orsonwelles (Orson Welles)
Arachnologist Gusavo Hormiga named this genus of gigantic spider after writer and director Orson Welles simply because Welles was a giant of filmmaking (we're assured this is meant metaphorically). The individual species' names are subtle references to Welles' work, such as O. Bellum for War of the Worlds, O. Malas for Touch of Evil, and O. Toledus for Citizen Kane.
Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei (Arthur C. Clarke)
2001 author Arthur C. Clarke has a slew of things named for him and his creations: the asteroid 4923 Clarke, the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, and, of course, the Clarke awards. Having a species of dinosaur named after him is just icing on the namesake cake.
Borogovia (Borogoves - The Jabberwocky)
Perhaps as an attempt to lend more meaning to Lewis Carroll's famous nonsense poem, the paleontologists who named these smaller, carnivorous dinosaurs named them after the borogoves in the opening verse:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
Dracorex Hogwartsia (Hogwarts School of Wizardry)
When a 66 million year-old dinosaur that looks like a dragon was discovered in South Dakota, paleontologists decided it would be at home in the Harry Potter universe, naming it "The Dragon King of Hogwarts" after the school of wizardry. J.K. Rowling agreed that the beast looked familiar, like "a slightly less pyromaniac Hungarian Horntail."
Leucothoe tolkieni (JRR Tolkien)
There is actually no shortage of critters named for Tolkien's creations, from a hairy-footed beetle named Pericompsus bilbo to the hexapod Gollumjapyx smeagol. But the tiny shrimp-like crustacean L. tokieni is named for the man himself.
It's probably not surprising that someone would eventually name a dinosaur after Japan's giant reptilian monster. But you would think they would have chosen a larger creature; Gojirasaurus is a mere 6.5 meters tall, and would tower over a human, but not the city of Tokyo.
Of course, this family of blind crustaceans from the class Remipedia makes Gojirasaurus look like Godzilla. It also contains two Gojira-themed geni: Godzillius, the largest of the remipedes, and Godzilligonomus, the smallest.
Evidentally, naming remipede crustaceans after Japanese monsters became something of a convention, as another genus in the Godzilliidae family was named after the flying menace Mothra.
Sinemys gamera (Gamera)
At least Gamera was named for a creature he might actually be related to. S. gamera is a turtle from the Cretaceous Period. Though the species may have existed in Japan, the S. gamera fossils were actually found in Inner Mongolia.
Hortipes terminator (Terminator)
The Hortipes are a genus of tiny spiders that live in the soil of sub-Saharan Africa. The H. terminator was reportedly so named because the males' appendages resemble a futuristic gun.
Balnibarbi (Balnibarbi - Gulliver's Travels
Another common source of scientific names is Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Oddly enough, this genus of trilobites gets its name from Balnibarbi, a country where science is used for foolish ends.
Laputavis (Laputa - Gulliver's Travels)
The Laputavis seems a more apt name from Jonathan Swift. Not only does it make sense to name an extinct bird for the flying castle in Gulliver's Travels, it's also a bit of a pun, as the Laputavis are related to swifts.
Sadly, no image of Laputavis was available. This is its distant relative, an Alpine Swift.
Holorusia brobdingnagia (Brobdingnags - Gulliver's Travels)
Brobdingnag is the country of giants — giant people, giant rats, giant insects. The H. brobdingnagia crane fly isn't quite as large as similar creatures in Brogdingnag (which were said to be as large as cats), but they're still sizable and annoying pests.
Jurassosaurus Nedegoapeferima (Jurassic Park)
This ankylosaurus is named not just for the film Jurassic Park, but for the cast as well. The species name is made up of letters from the actors' surnames: Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sir Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Ariana Richards, and Joseph Mazzello. Ultimately, the genus name Jurassosaurus was dropped in favor of Tianchisaurus, but the movie-inspired species name stuck.
Conus tribblei (Tribbles - Star Trek)
You would think a species named after the fuzzy, procreation-happy pets from the original Star Trek series would be furry. Instead, we get predator sea snails. As it turns out, C. tribblei isn't named directly for the fictional pet, but for discoverer Jerry Walls actual pet, a cat named "Tribbles."
Bidenichthys beeblebroxi (Zaphod Beeblebrox - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Though you can't see it on this species of triplefin blenny (a close relation), B. bebblroxi has a false head pattern on its scales, earning it a moniker similar to that of Douglas Adams' funny two-headed alien.
Erechthias beeblebroxi (Zaphod Beeblebrox - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Once again not seen here on this related species, but the E. beeblebroxi moth's pattern create the illusion of a second head, adding it to Zaphod's two-headed naming pile.
Fiordichthys slartibartfasti (Slartibartfast - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Planet designer Slartibartfast has a particular affinity for making coastlines, especially the fjords of Norway. So this particular fishy, found only in the Fiordland of New Zealand was named in his honor.
Ninjemys (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
This horned turtle of Pleistocene epoch gets its radical name from the sewer-dwelling mutants of New York. Sadly, its existence predates the invention of the pepperoni pizza, so it was forced to live on a diet of plants.
Morlockia Garcia-Valdecasas (Morlocks - The Time Machine)
The subterranean Morlocks from H.G. Wells get their own troglodyte species named for them, a remipede crustacean found in the caves of the Bahamas.
Pimoa Cthulhu (The Call of Cthulhu)
You might have expected that a species named after Lovecraft's unspeakable horror would be a cephalopod of some kind, or at least something frighteningly monstrous. Instead, we get an ordinary American spider, one that isn't even poisonous to humans.
Han solo (Han Solo)
Giving this trilobite species the name Han solo was an excuse not only to name a creature after a character from Star Wars, but also to make a terrible pun. H. solo, is, after all, the sole member of the genus Han. Incidentally, Harrison Ford has two species named after him, the spieder Calponia harrisonfordi and the ant Pheidole harrisonfordi.
Agathidium vaderi (Darth Vader)
If there's one person that biologists can't resist naming critters after, it's Darth Vader. And entymologists Kelly Miller and Quentin Wheeler particularly love assigning beetles in the Agathidium genus unusual names. Other Agathidium species include A. bushi, A. cheneyi, and A. rumsfeldi. A. vaderi in particular gets its name from its shiny, helmet-like head.
Darthvaderum (Darth Vader)
Apparently, this genus of orbited mites got its name when the entomologist who discovered them took one look and thought of the Sith Lord.
Polemistus chewbacca, P. vaderi, and P. yoda (Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Yoda)
It's not entirely clear why entomologists Arnold Menke and David Vincent decided to name their newly-discovered wasp species after characters from Star Wars. Apparently, they're just big fans.