While swanky tour buses and adoring fans are among the more obvious benefits to being a famous heavy metal musician, there's another benefit that's been appearing in the world of science lately: having flying and crawling creatures named after you.
Last month it was announced that a newly found fossil of a giant worm had been named after Alex Webster, the bass player for death metal band, Cannibal Corpse. Now it has been revealed that Tuomas Holopainen, the founder of the symphonic metal band Nightwish, has been similarly honored by having a never-before-seen fungus gnat named after him.
The gnat was found in eastern Lapland in Finland and has been given the scientific name of Sciophila holopaineni in honor of the Finnish composer and musician who plays keyboards in addition to several other instruments.
But why was the founder of Nightwish chosen instead of say, the leader of Journey?
"When I listened their album Endless Forms Most Beautiful for the first time, I was impressed," the man who made the discovery, Jukka Salmela from Finland's University of Turku told New Atlas. "I think their album is a masterpiece and it must have awakened interest to natural sciences in people who may otherwise ignore science news." Indeed, that album, which was released in 2015, takes its inspiration in part from the writings of Charles Darwin.
Fungus gnats are flies that consume dead wood or fungi and, while there are thousands of species belonging to its genus, we asked Salmela what identified this one as being different.
"Well, in general it is a typical member of the Sciophila genus due to its hairy wings and peculiar comb-like megasetae on the gonostylus (gonostylus is a part of male abdomen, it is used in holding females during copulation)," he answered with only the enthusiasm a conservation biologist could muster. "But otherwise it seems to be quite distant to the known members of the genus; it has splendid spear-shaped parameres for example."
For those of us who don't spend our days so intimately connected with the natural world, megasetae are basically long hairs, while the parameres are the external reproductive organs on the males of the species.
The newly described gnat seems to like the shade and was discovered in a river gulch in the forest in a region known as the Törmäoja Natura Area. It is just one of eight newly discovered flies described in a paper Salmela wrote with Levente-Péter Kolcsár from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. That paper was published today in the Biodiversity Data Journal. According to the researchers, there are approximately 1,000 species of fungus gnat in the Nordic countries with about 10 percent of them still undescribed.
"I am very, very touched," Tuomas Holopainen replied after Jukka contacted him for permission to name the species after him. "This is the highest honour a nature nerd like me can receive."
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