It’s the perfect stereotype: an entomologist who can’t get enough of the Beatles. Although naming a beetle after said favorite band would have been the ideal scenario, discovering a new species is not exactly an everyday occurrence, so scientist Fernando Pérez-Miles decided not to miss out on a rare opportunity. He named a previously unknown tarantula after one of his idols- John Lennon.
“I have been waiting for a while to dedicate a species to Lennon because I am a fan of the Beatles,” Pérez-Miles told National Geographic. “I decided not to wait anymore.”
The previously unknown tarantula, Bumba lennoni, was discovered in a national forest in Pará, Brazil. It’s a member of the Theraphosidae family which includes the largest spider species in the world: Theraphosa blondi, or the Goliath birdeater. But this species doesn’t quite measure up to its dinner-plate-sized relative with a body size of only 1.3 inches.
Specimens of this arachnid were actually captured back in 2005, but it was only recently that Pérez-Miles’ team examined them closely and realized that they indeed discovered a new species. They were caught at night time which could suggest that they are nocturnal. Like other tarantulas, they possess defensive hairs on the abdomen which irritate the skin upon contact. The researchers were able to distinguish them from close relatives because the males have a particularly small sexual organ. Another distinguishing feature is the large number of small nodules (cuspules) around the mouth which possibly help the animal crush prey.
The genus name, Bumba, was inspired by a popular Brazilian festival called Boi-bumbá (hit my bull) and replaces the previous name Maraca. According to the team, lennoni was chosen because John Lennon helped “to make this world a gentler place.”