The Unusual-Looking Spider Named After David Bowie

Legendary pop singer and gender-bending icon David Bowie has lived on far beyond his death in 2016, not just in the hearts of his adoring fans but in a few species of the animal kingdom and the actual stars in the night sky. His 1976 film "The Man Who Fell to Earth," inspired an astronomer to name a constellation of seven stars in the shape of a lightning bolt — like the one Bowie painted on his face for his 1973 album — after him (per New York Post).

Writing in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research, scientists who discovered an ancient wasp called astropulvis, or "stardust" in Latin, said they were inspired by its bright colors to name it after Bowie. Animals named after Bowie and his alter ego Ziggy Stardust even stretch into the dinosaur age, including the oldest known mammal in Brazil, Brasilestes Stardusti, and a lizard-looking dinosaur with a star-shaped skull, the Stellasaurus (via Culture Trip, DailyMail). In honor of Bowie's 1972 album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars," a spider also found itself bearing his name.

The Heteropoda davidbowie

In 2008, a giant spider with lots of long blonde locks not unlike David Bowie's was named Heteropoda davidbowie after the late songwriter, according to The Guardian. Instead of spinning a web like many spider species, this type of "huntsman" spider — as you might guess — hunts for smaller insects, attacking its prey with its venom (via Atlas Obscura). Per The Guardian, this spider was endangered as of 2009, and the German scientist who named it, Peter Jäger, did so in order to raise awareness about the spider's existence in the hopes that it would help it survive.

According to Atlas Obscura, the Malaysian spider was actually misidentified pre-2008 as a similar-looking spider, the Heteropoda javana. It wasn't until one of Jäger's colleagues, who was keeping the Bowie spider as a pet, sent it to him for identification that he realized there were subtle differences between the two species — namely that the Bowie spider was (of course) more colorful.

One of many animal celebrities

According to National Geographic, it was back in the 1700s that a Swedish biologist named Carl Linnaeus created the current naming structure in the animal kingdom, and decided that each new animal would get a genus and a species, like Homo sapiens. In addition to the Heteropoda davidbowie, there have been many other species named after celebrities.

In 2012, a scientist discovered a rare fly in Australia that had golden hairs on its belly and named it Scaptia beyonceae after Beyoncé (via ABC News). There's also Gnathia marleyi, a parasitic crustacean found in the Caribbean that was named after the reggae rock star Bob Marley, and the Sylviagus palustris hefneri, an endangered rabbit native to Florida named after Hugh Hefner for his Playboy "bunny" logo (per BBC News). Actually, Hefner has donated money to research that's helped the bunnies survive, showing how this clever naming move by scientists can work to spread awareness (via Grist).