Hairy, yellow spider is named for David Bowie

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A German scientist specializing in the discovery of rare species of arachnid has named his latest find after David Bowie, he who introduced the world to ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’ in 1972.

Unlike the album for which it was named, though, the Heteropoda davidbowie is no alien -- it was discovered in Malaysia by Peter Jäger, who has found about 200 new spider species over the past 10 years. And H. davidbowie, despite its name, bears no resemblance to either the Thin White Duke or his long-discarded Ziggy Stardust persona. It’s large, yellow and hairy -- but its very strangeness, in a way, does seem to fit in with the theatricality of ‘Ziggy.’


His penchant for naming his discoveries after celebrities isn’t just for fun, either, Jäger says. Instead, he hopes that the names (another species was named after German musician Nina Hagen) will grab the attention of the public, whose help is needed to save these species, many of which are endangered. ‘It is working against time,’ Jäger told the Observer. ‘Along with the species, we are also quickly losing genetic resources that have evolved over more than 300 million years.’

Environmental authorities, the Telegraph notes, have often shied away from including spiders on their lists of endangered species, although the same dangers that affect other animals -- habitat loss, deforestation -- can affect them too. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species features only 27 species of spider, although more than 40,000 species are thought to exist.

No word as of yet from Bowie himself about what he thinks of the dubious honor of having a spider named for him.

-- Lindsay Barnett