One of the coolest aspects of being the first person to document a new species is getting to name it whatever you want. Often times scientists will name a discovery after themselves but it’s also common to name them in honor of something culturally relevant.
A Loureedia phoenixi (spider) with a wild red, black, and white pattern on its back bearing an uncanny resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix’s makeup on Joker was discovered in Iran. This spider which typically lives most of its life in subterranean nests is the first of this genus to be found outside of the Mediterranean and thus designated a new species.
It’s been aptly named the ‘Joker’ spider in honor of the film and it’s pretty easy to see the resemblance. The full scientific name of the 0.3-inch spider is Loureedia phoenixi, the genus name honoring New York’s Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground, and the phoenixi is a tribute to Joker.
Check this thing out:
Joaquin Phoenix now has a spider named after him. The newly discovered velvet spider species is named ‘Loureedia Phoenixi’ due to the pattern on the creature's back that resembles Joker’s smile [Via: @DailyMail] pic.twitter.com/TmtKIThhyx
— Joaquin Phoenix Updates (@DailyJoaquin) June 24, 2020
2020 is year that just keeps giving.
I give you, the Joker spider.
New found species that has colors like the Joker's smile. pic.twitter.com/F0vHUrm89W
— Redzone ANTI – Console Agrarian Worker (@MenaceZone) June 29, 2020
Here’s the rundown on this discovery, via LiveScience:
Scientists discovered Loureedia phoenixi in Iran; it’s the first Loureedia spider to be identified outside the Mediterranean region, they reported in a new study. The genus, first described in 2018, now includes four species.
On the backs of the male L. phoenixi spiders, a splash of vivid red stands out against a background of white, much like the Joker’s unnerving smile contrasts with his white facial makeup, the scientists wrote in the study. Though, you’d need magnification to see it clearly, as the spider’s body measures only about 0.3 inches (8 millimeters) long and is covered in tiny hairs.
In fact, spiders in this family — Eresidae — are known as velvet spiders because they sport dense, velvety coats, said lead study author Alireza Zamani, an arachnologist and doctoral candidate in the Biodiversity Unit at the University of Turku in Finland. Velvet spiders are especially interesting to arachnologists because some have unusual habits, such as cooperating to build communal nests and collectively caring for their young, Zamani told Live Science in an email.
I can’t imagine a world where I’d ever personally encounter this Joker spider anywhere outside of a zoo and given that it’s a new species I doubt there are too many floating around in captivity at the moment.
So far, scientists have only been able to capture male Joker spiders so they’re unsure of what the females look like.
For more on this discovery, you can head on over to LiveScience.