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10 Fossils Named for Rock Stars

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Fossils rock. So much so that paleontologists have named a whole menagerie of prehistoric critters after their favorite musicians. Here’s a rundown of some of the fantastic prehistoric species named in honor of rock stars.

1. Masiakasaurus knopfleri

Picking away at ancient rock all day can be a little tedious, so paleontologists often bring music out into the field to help the days go faster. Some songs seem to be luckier than others. Paleontologists working in the 70 million year old rock of Madagascar kept finding lots of bones of a dog-sized predatory dinosaur whenever they put Dire Straits on the radio—so when it was time to name the snaggletoothed dinosaur (above), they dubbed it Masiakasaurus knopfleri in honor of the band’s singer, Mark Knopfler.

2. Qiliania graffini

This feathered dinosaur is named after Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin. Belonging to an extinct group of avians with teeth and claws called enantiornithes, the 120 million year old Qiliania graffini is yet another species that confirms the fact that birds are dinosaurs.

3. Barbaturex morrisoni

At about six feet long, the 50 million year old iguana Barbaturex was the biggest plant-eating lizard of all time. Such superlative size requires a fitting name. Since The Doors’ Jim Morrison once proclaimed himself The Lizard King, paleontologists thought adding his name as a species epithet was the perfect way to highlight the lizard’s impressive girth.

4. Kingnites diamondi

Vertebrates aren’t the only hard-rocking fossils. Danish rocker King Diamond inspired the name of Kingnites diamondi, a 420 million year old worm that grew to 20 inches and had a nasty set of piercing mouthparts.

5. The Punk Trilobites

Trilobites were relatively mild-manned invertebrates, crawling over the prehistoric seabottom and rolling up into a ball when threatened. But there is one group that has a bit more edge. All the species in trilobite genus Arcticalymene are named after the Sex PistolsA. jonesi, A. matlocki, A. cooki, A. vicious, and A. rotteni. The Ramones got their turn, too, while trilobites named Mackenziurus joeyi, M. johnnyi, M. deedeei, and M. ceejayi.

6. Mesoparapylocheles michaeljacksoni

This 100 million year old hermit crab wasn’t known for doing the moonwalk or "Thriller" dance. Instead, paleontologists discovered the Cretaceous crustacean on the same day as they learned of Michael Jackson’s death and named it Mesoparapylocheles michaeljacksoni in honor of the deceased pop idol.

7. Amaurotoma zappa

Fossil snails are a bit of an acquired taste. They’re often small and don’t have the celebrity status of megamammals or dinosaurs. Perfect, then, that the 300 million year old snail from Nevada was dubbed Amaurotoma zappa in honor of musical underdog Frank Zappa.

8. Gagadon minimonstrum

Some paleontologists go all out with their clever names. On the basis of a fossil jaw, researchers Richard Stucky and Herbert Covert named a new, 50 million year old hoofed mammal Gagadon minimonstrum. The official paper says that the species name refers to the small and complex teeth of the mammal, but we all know that the name translates to Lady Gaga’s “Little Monster.”

9. AC/DC Millipedes

Paleontologist Gregory Edgecombe has a habit of naming fossils for his favorite musical acts. Not only did he dub the Sex Pistols and Ramones trilobites, but in a 1998 paper [PDF], he named a pair of 410 million year old millipedes after the famous AC/DC brothers Malcolm and Angus Young—Maldybulakia malcolmi and M. angusi, respectively. Imagine the on-stage histrionics if Angus had as many legs as his prehistoric namesake.

10. Jaggermeryx

This 19 million year old mammal probably didn’t have moves like Jagger, but it did have lips like him. A set of tiny holes around the jaw of Jaggermeryx, a distant cousin of today’s hippos, indicate that it probably had unusually fleshy and sensitive lips. The fossil record is as yet unclear on whether this swamp-dwelling beast could get any satisfaction.

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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