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Specimen named after actors new celebrity trend

Some actors win an Oscar others do their job so extremely well they get a fungus-killing compound named after them. Like Keanu Reeves's character John Wick, Keamucyins can kill fungi with deadly precision.


“Keanu Reeves plays many iconic roles in which he is extremely efficient in ‘inactivating’ his enemies. The keanumycins do the same with fungi,” said Dr. Pierre Stallforth to the New York Times. A researcher and professor of paleo biotechnology at Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology in Jena, Germany.


Mr. Reeves' team didn’t immediately comment. However, during a question and answer session to promote the release of his new film John Wick: Chapter 4. Reeves was asked for his reaction. 


He responded by saying it was pretty surreal. “They should’ve called it John Wick,” he said. “But that’s pretty cool … and surreal for me. But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us.”


An estimated 17,000 to 24,000 animal species are identified every year, said Dr. Ellinor Michel of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature at London's Natural History Museum in the BBC magazine article. Scientists pick the species' name based on distinctive characteristics of the species or the place it was found. Some honorable mentions include a parasite named after Reggae music legend Bob Marley, a dinosaur named after Rock king Elvis Presley, an endangered rabbit named after Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner and a royal frog named after prince Charles. 


Scientists will name their discoveries after the people they admire. Such is the case with marine biologist Paul Sikke; “I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley’s music,” said Sikkel.


Surprisingly enough, beetles have the name of famous starlets, movie characters and even politicians. American cartoonist and environmentalist Gary Larson was honored to have an insect species named after him.


"I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along." he said. 


Like Larson, comedian and actor John Cleese feels privileged to have a lemur named after him. Cleese loves lemurs, so he was pretty pleased when scientists named a species of wooly lemur native to western Madagascar after him.

"Scientists generally do not name species after themselves," says Michel. "That is seen as the height of arrogance, undermining any honor in having a scientific name remembering them into posterity."


Even though it may not be the greatest triumph, it certainly is exciting to have a scientific discovery named after you. 


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Tags: Science Fungi John Wick Keanu Reeves


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