Long dead musicians

Following on from yesterday’s guest post, I thought it timely to remember a few other musicians who are honoured in palaeontology. It’s really quite common in taxonomy for famous people to have things named after them and especially in some fields when single workers are often near drowned in alpha taxonomy and can run out of names.

I did some of my taxonomic training under someone who worked on parasitoid wasps and these things are enormously diverse. But with only a handful of people worldwide working on them, it wasn’t uncommon for my tutor to name several *dozen* species a year. When it’s happening at that rate, names don’t mean as much as they do to say a palaeontologist who can only do one or two a year or a modern mammologist who might only manage a couple in their whole career.

In addition to Qiliania graffini the most obvious example would be the dinosaur Masiakasaurus knopfleri named for Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Trilobites I know cover the Beatles in some detail (even Pete best gets one!) and there are ones for the Grateful Dead and Mick Jagger too. After that I’m running out fast I admit, but I’m sure there are others I don’t know about.

8 Responses to “Long dead musicians”


  1. 1 Jaime A. Headden 02/06/2011 at 12:26 pm

    http://www.curioustaxonomy.net/etym/people.html includes a long list of musician-inspired nomenclature — scroll down to “Music.” Most of the “great” (i.e., popularly famous) classical artists are represented.

  2. 3 Kilian Hekhuis 02/06/2011 at 1:03 pm

    Here’s another list, but no palaeo ones either: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/4323547

  3. 4 Mark Robinson 03/06/2011 at 4:05 am

    I have it on good authority that Albertosaurus is named after Albert King and that Brontosaurus is named for the album by Da Vinci’s Notebook.

    And, of course, T. rex is named after Marc Bolan’s band.

  4. 5 Brad McFeeters 03/06/2011 at 1:41 pm

    The Cretaceous turtle Chupacabrachelys complexus is named after a performance by the Blue Man Group.

  5. 6 Coleman 03/06/2011 at 2:52 pm

    I read a ton of dinosaur books(4 year old boy!!!) and the Szechuanosaurus is obviously names after the szechuan chicken at PF Changs.

  6. 7 William D. Robertson 08/07/2011 at 10:17 pm

    Last year I came across a paper in which various trilobites were named after alternative rock stars of the Eighties (Robert Smith, David Bowie, etc.).

    I wrote a blog post about it:

    http://scalydistractions.blogspot.com/2010/03/trilobites-rock-eighties.html


  1. 1 Blog Carnival #33: Plastic Toys, Foiling a Poacher, Honored Musicians | Dinosaur Tracking Trackback on 01/07/2011 at 2:32 pm
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