Scientist names new spider genus after David Bowie

·2 min read
German arachnologist Peter Jäger named 54 new spider species to David Bowie in order to raise awareness on conservation.
The spider Bowie rebelrebel, one of the 54 new species discovered by Peter Jäger. (Inset) Late singer David Bowie. (Photos: Senckenberg/Peter Jäger; Bowie – AP Photo/Ron Frehm, File )

A total of 54 newly-discovered Asian cousins of a spider commonly seen in the Philippines have been named after English singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie.

In an announcement from the Senckenberg Research Institute and German Natural History Museum, arachnologist Dr. Peter Jäger said that he had classified the newly-discovered species related to huntsman spiders from across Asia under the new genus Bowie gen. nov., in commemoration of the musician’s 75th birthday in 2022.

Jäger’s work was published in Zootaxa journal on August 4.

“I wanted to commemorate this incomparable artist who left us much too early, but what matters most to me here is the idea of conservation: We only protect what we know – and an attractive name is much more likely to be remembered,” Jäger said in a press release.

He also said that since he couldn’t assign these species to any preexisting genus, he dedicated it instead to David Bowie, who died in 2016 of liver cancer at the age of 69 years old.

“When examining species from a predominantly Asian lineage in this family, I soon realized that they could not be assigned to any preexisting genus,” Jäger said.

“I therefore dedicated this new genre to David Bowie and called it simply Bowie!” he added.

Huntsman spiders, usually brown and long-legged, grow relatively large, with some growing as big as a man’s open hand. They are usually found in tropical areas around the world, and don’t make webs but instead roam around in search of prey.

The Philippine species of this huntsman spider, Heteropoda venatoria, are generally harmless and found in most houses and farms, and preys on cockroaches and other small insects. Colloquially, they are called gagambang bahay (household spiders).

In 2008, Jäger also named a spider of the same species after David Bowie, naming it Heteropoda davidbowie.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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