Bright-colored “smiley face” spiders have been the center of biological studies in the U.S. and the tropics for some time now. That continued research has led scientists to the discovery of 15 new species of these spiders. Now, the names they received are rather unconventional, but perhaps not so unexpected.
Professor Ingi Agnarsson of the University of Vermont led a study which involved four undergraduate students. They set out to further examine these mysterious smiley face spider species and their habitats. The team reportedly didn’t expect to find a plethora of new species extending from the singular, previously known smiley face spider.
These spiders were tracked and examined in their homes spanning across Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Lesser Antilles, Costa Rica, Florida, South Carolina, among others. With a span of homes ranging from North America to northern Brazil, scientists are confident that there plenty more of these arachnids still to be discovered.
Why the “smiley face” name though? According to specialists from Berkeley University, the posterior abdomen of these spiders has a design with two dots and curved line beneath it. One that is strangely resemblant of a smile.
The Names of the 15 New Spider Species
Titles like Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. berniesandersi, S. barackobamai, and S. michelleobamaae are just some of the examples of new names these spiders now hold. They resemble and point towards celebrities and politicians such as David Attenborough, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama, for the four mentioned above.
“In naming these spiders, the students and I wanted to honour people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change”, explained Professor Agnarsson.
Along with those championing progress in the scientific community, the students have also used celebrities as a source of inspiration. Some of the other names include S. davidbowiei and S. leonardodicaprioi for David Bowie and Leonardo Dicaprio, respectively.
With so many species being discovered so quickly, scientists often run out of conventional names to use for titling the creatures. This isn’t the first time scientific names have been given to honor of high-profile figures. With so many species still to be discovered, it likely won’t be the last time either.
Image Source: Wikimedia