Scientists have identified and given a name to 14 new tarantula species, but one black tarantula currently has a less ordinary moniker. The famed country singer Johnny Cash now has a tarantula named after him: Aphonopelma Johnnycashi.
The spider was spotted nearby Folsom Prison, in California, biologists said. They also noted that they though Johnny Cash would make an inspired moniker for the new species because the animal and the musician have something in common: they both ‘dress’ in black.
Biologists have found 13 more species of tarantula in the southern U.S. They recently published a study describing the newly found animals in the journal ZooKeys.
Chris Hamilton, the lead author of the team that made the discovery, said he had to do some cleaning and sweeping in the tarantula genus, because the group apparently included a lot of double counts. Plus, scientists found 14 new species that were never classified by science.
Hamilton, who is now working with the Florida Museum of Natural History, noted that he is a longtime fan of Johnny Cash and he even has a tattoo. So, he thought about paying a tribute to his favorite musician in a very personal way.
He also explained that his team found the new species of tarantula in highly populated areas. Unlike what people usually believe, new species do not dwell only in places that aren’t inhabited by humans. They can sometimes be found in our backyards, literally, Hamilton added.
He also noted that many species of tarantula have already been discovered but they now patiently wait on shelves for a description and a name. Nevertheless, A. johnnycashi was not picked from a museum’s dusty shelf. It was found very much alive in the wilds of California.
Researchers said that they spotted two specimens: one roaming along the Sierra Nevada’s foothills, while the other was hiding in a place close to Folsom Prison. Hamilton thought that the name would best suit the tarantula for at least two reasons.
First, Johnny Cash is the author of the song ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ which even has a live version recorded in the prison in the 1960s. Second, the singer is well-know for his black-clad appearances.
“It’s a perfect name. It fits the spider,”
Study authors noted that the new species was overlooked for so much time despite living in a relatively populated area because it looks very similarly to other species including the common Aphonopelma iodius.
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