James Thomas from the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography named a newly-discovered crustacean after Elton John. The researchers chose to name the species Leucothoe eltoni or L. eltoni because he is a big fan of the artist and he often listens to his albums while he is working in his laboratory.
According to Thomas he had been contacted several years ago by Bishop Museum Honolulu in order to help with the identification of a strange amphipod. It seems that this species can nowadays be found in Indonesia and it travelled from the Subic Bay in Philippines to Hawaii in a floating drydock as a hitchhiker.
The research conducted by Thomas in Philippines confirmed that the species indeed lived there. Having reached a new ecosystem the marine animal can compete with native species and this could have unknown effects. For now scientists are not sure how this species could influence the environment because they are hard to find and study due to their size.
The crustacean named after the legendary pop star has the shape of a shrimp. It was discovered inside an invertebrate with which it had a commensal association, a type of parasitic relationship. This means that the parasite does not affect the host and neither of them wins or loses something. Scientists say that it is an invasive species since it does not influence the host in any way.
In most cases invasions are not noticed, but this invasive amphipod was remarked quickly because over the years researchers from Bishop Museum have established a baseline of species.
As far as the unusual name of the creature is concerned taxonomists are free to choose names related to features of the animal, people, places or other things which the scientist likes. Now it seems to be a trend among scientists that deal with naming new species to use names of famous people whom they admire.
There are other such cases in which a species was named after a famous person. For example the Cherax snowden crayfish which was discovered in 2006 was named after Edward Snowden. He is known worldwide because of the fact that he made secret documents of the National Security Agency public.
Image Source: NBC News