Researchers Name Extremely Cool Coral Reef Spider After Bob Marley

The female of the new species. R. Raven/Evolutionary Systematics; CC BY 4.0

Considering the year we’ve had, learning that Bob Marley’s back in the news is a welcome, short-term relief. Hearing him sing his repeated and famous refrain “everything’s gonna be alright” is decidedly soothing right now.

So why is this remarkable Jamaican singer-songwriter making headlines now? Has a previously undiscovered album been unearthed, or are some hidden song lyrics only just coming to light? No – he’s been honored in the naming of a new species of spider.

As reported in a recent Evolutionary Systematics study, a newly analyzed, water-adapted, coral reef-residing, eight-legged beastie in the genus Desis has been given the species name bobmarleyi.

These spiders are known to inhabit intertidal zones, the part of the shore that is varyingly above and below water at low and high tides, respectively. They tend to spend their time hunting down various forms of marine-based prey using their considerable speed and slightly scary jaws; otherwise, they hang out in a protective air chamber comprised of silk.

So why was the latest discovery named after the greatest reggae musician in history? The authors give the game away right at the start of their study.

“Here, we describe a new intertidal species from tropical Queensland and name it after Bob Marley, whose song “High Tide or Low Tide” inspired us as it lives in a “high tide low tide” habitat”, they explain.

D. bobmarleyi was first identified back in 2009 from a male holotype, the original specimen on which a species is identified, along with a female counterpart found at roughly the same time. Only now has it been officially categorized as a brand new species.

A male specimen. R. Raven/Evolutionary Systematics; CC BY 4.0

According to the Queensland Museum and the University of Hamburg researchers, they have also re-described another species first discovered a century-and-a-half ago, while casting some shade at the existing description of another Desis species.

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