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The Quick 10: 10 Animals Named After Celebrities

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It's old news by now that Stephen Colbert now has a beetle named after him the Agaporomorphus colberti. Shouldn't it have been the Agaporomorphus mccartnei, the Agaporomorphus starkei, the Agaporomorphus harrisoni or the Agaporomorphus lennoni? Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Anyway, Colbert is far from the only dude to have an animal or insect named after him. Here are 10 who beat him to the punch.

hefs1. Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is an endangered species of rabbit named after another dwindling animal who adores the act of procreating: Hugh Hefner. The Sylvilagus palustris hefneri is a type of Marsh Rabbit that lives only in swampy areas and likes to hide in thick vegetation such as grass and bushes. The subspecies name after Hefner is actually the Lower Key Marsh Rabbit, but Marsh rabbits can be found in Carolina and Florida as well. Only the Lower Key Marsh Rabbit is endangered, though.

2. Cryptocercus garciai is a species of wood roach, which is fitting because it's named after Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. I just love a scientist with a sense of humor.

3. Phialella zappai is named after Frank Zappa simply because the guy who named that particular type of jellyfish wanted to meet Frank Zappa. Really. When Frank found out, he said, "There is nothing I would like better than having a jellyfish with my name," and invited the scientist to spend a couple of days at his house. So, if you've been trying to devise a way to meet a celebrity, there you go. 

fords4. Calponia harrisonfordi and Pheidole harrisonfordi. Harrison has two creepy crawlies named after him. The C. harrisonfordi is a type of spider that is thought to eat other spiders, but that's not why it was named after Han Solo. The man who discovered it, arachnologist Norman I. Platnick, simply wanted to thank Ford for narrating a documentary he had filmed for the London Museum of Natural History. The Pheidole harrisonfordi is a species of ant named after Harrison to recognize his work as the Vice Chairman of Conservation International.

5. Preseucoila imallshookupis is a gall wasp. Guess who it's named after? There's really no resemblance to The King; reportedly the scientist who named it was just an avid fan.

6. The Strigiphilus garylarsoni is a type of lice only found on owls, so not everyone would be particularly honored by the name—but Gary Larson sure was. The scientist who named the louse wrote to Larson and said he deserved to have a scavenging insect named after him because of his comedic contributions to science, biology and etymology. Larson responded by writing this in The Prehistory of the Far Side: "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."

cleese7. Avahi cleesei is also known as the Bemaraha Woolly Lemur or Cleese's Woolly Lemur. Cleese is very active in protecting the species and educating people about their plight. One of the scientists who discovered Cleese's Woolly Lemur said they can't really walk, "But they do enjoy silly jumps."

8. Rostropria garbo was named after the reclusive movie star by the same name "“ Greta Garbo. Because of her famous statement, "I want to be alone," scientists thought it would be fitting to name a solitary female wasp after her. Except Garbo once said she never uttered the famous line, at least not in a personal context (she did say it in character in the movie Grand Hotel). She contended that the quote was actually, "I want to be let alone," and that there was an immense difference in the meaning of the two phrases.

9. Cirolana mercuryi, a species of crustacean, was named after Freddie Mercury. Why? Not because the because the little guy has a three-octave range, unfortunately, but because the isopod makes its home in the coral reefs off of Bawe Island, Zanzibar. Since Mercury is one of Zanzibar's most famous residents, the scientists thought it would be nice to honor him.

10. Struszia mccartneyi means that Paul already has a species named after him. This one is a trilobite discovered in 1993. And lest you think that other aging rockers have been left out of the joke, don't worry—Mick Jagger, Johnny Rotten, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Ringo Starr and all of the Ramones also have trilobites named after them, and so does John Lennon.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
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Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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