Three new species of suckermouth armored catfish have been discovered in South America, and one of them is named after Greedo of Rodia, the enigmatic (somewhat controversial) bounty hunter killed by Han Solo at Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina in Episode IV.
That particular catfish was discovered in 1998 by researchers along the Gurupi River in Brazil. Then in 2005, an Auburn University trio led by Jonathan Armbruster obtained the specimen for a paper they were preparing about the genus Peckoltia. It wasn’t until a decade later when, while examining its characteristics, an arachnologist lab-mate said: “’That looks like that guy from Star Wars,’” Armbruster recalls. “After a little prodding, I realized he was talking about Greedo. We then knew what the name had to be,” he adds.
So, they named it Peckoltia greedoi. The reddish-brown, small- to medium-sized catfish has a uniformly colored head (no spots or mottling), and the largest of the specimens they examined is 7.8 centimeters (3 inches) long. Its sucker mouth, protruding bristles, and large, dark eyes make it a pretty good fishy doppelgänger for Greebo. What do you think?
Armbruster’s team named the other two catfish Peckoltia lujani, for a former graduate student, and Peckoltia ephippiata, for the saddles on its back (“ephippiata” is Latin for saddled). These were found in Venezuela and Brazil, respectively. All three were described in ZooKeys last month.
“In biology, taxonomy is probably the most important science,” Armbruster says in a statement. “We have not even completed cataloging all of the species found locally, and in places like South America, it sometimes feels like we have barely started. We need names to be able to discuss anything about the biology of the organisms, and it is the one branch of biology used by every biologist alive.”
Here’s a cool video where Armbruster explains how the name came to be, with bonus Star Wars clips:
Images: Auburn University via Flickr & Greedo picture courtesy starwarshelmets.com
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