A newly discovered species of fungus growing ants in Venezuela’s rainforest has been named after the British alternative-rock band, Radiohead.
Following their sample collection of silky ants from across their entire range in Central and South America, the scientists discovered three new ant species, one of which was the rockstar ant in question.
With the use of a scanning electron microscope, they noted that this particular ants’ body is covered with a white, crystal-like layer, its function might be that to protect both the ants and their fungus farms from parasites. What kept them going through the long hours of research? Radiohead, of course. According to CNET, the researchers credited the bands discography as “an excellent companion during long hours at the microscope while conducting taxonomic revisions of ants,”.
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The dedicated denomination of the species is ‘Sericomyrmex radioheadi’, more specifically, it is the binomial nomenclature (two terms used to denote a species; the genus and the specific epithet). “We wanted to honour their music” one of the paper’s authors, Ana Ješovnik said in a press release. “But more importantly, we wanted to acknowledge the conservation efforts of the band members, especially in raising climate-change awareness.”
The band have been actively involved in raising awareness of conservation and climate change, but other than their environmentally responsible approach there is not much linking them to the species itself.
Curious but not unheard of, this is not the first time a member of the animal kingdom gets named after a rock band, Science Focus published a list of their favourite examples here.