Friday, March 5, 2010

Trilobites Rock the Eighties

In 2001, paleontologists unveiled a new dinosaur, a small theropod from the Cretaceous of Madagascar. The discovery made headlines because the dinosaur was named Masiakasaurus knopfleri, after rock star Mark Knopfler, former leader of Dire Straits. The discovery caught my attention both because of my interest in dinosaurs, and because, in my purely subjective opinion, Dire Straits was the absolute greatest band ever. But keep in mind that this is my purely subjective opinion, so please don't waste your precious time arguing over it.

Recently I came upon a paper (abstract here) in the December 2009 issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. In the paper, Neo E. B. McAdams and Jonathan M. Adrain from the University of Iowa investigate trilobite fossils from the Ordovician of Nevada and Utah, and establish the new genus Heckethornia. Within Heckethornia they establish the following new species:

Heckethornia smithi

Heckethornia hyndeae

Heckethornia numani

Heckethornia bowiei

Heckethornia morriseyi

Heckethornia ballionae

Perhaps these names look familiar to you. The full text of the paper reveals that the trilobites are named after Robert Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Gary Numan, David Bowie, Morrissey, and Susan Ballion (who, Wikipedia informs me, is better known as Siouxsie Sioux).

I support this trend of naming extinct taxa after Eighties musicians. But I also think that some guidelines need to be put in place, lest anyone name a conodont after Vanilla Ice, or a benthic foraminiferan after the New Kids on the Block.

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