Did You Know a Species of Tarantula is Named After Johnny Cash?

Along the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada, a species of tarantula, the Aphonopelma johnnycashi, resides.

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In 2015, a new classification of arachnid was discovered near Folsom Prison in California. The all-black tarantula was fittingly named after country icon and “Folsom Prison Blues” singer, Johnny Cash.

“The specific epithet is in honor of the country music legend, Johnny Cash,” the published study explained. “This species can be found near the area of Folsom Prison in California, and like Cash’s distinctive style of dress (where he was referred to as “the man in black”), mature males of this species are generally black in color.”

Aphonopelma johnnycashi was among 14 new tarantula species reported at the same time, having been discovered during a decade-long search across the country.

Dr. Chris Hamilton was the scientist who named the spider after Cash. “We often hear about how new species are being discovered from remote corners of the Earth, but what is remarkable is that these spiders are in our own backyard,” Hamilton said of the study.

While the tarantulas in black are venomous, they are not considered dangerous. Hamilton describes them as “teddy bears with eight legs.”

It may not seem like a flattering thing to have a spider named after you, but several different species have been named for famous musicians.

There is an Elvis Presley-inspired gall wasp, named Preseucoila imallshookupis. A breed of John Lennon trilobite exists (Avalanchurus lennoni) as does a Paul McCartney one (Struszia mccartneyi) and a Ringo Starr species (Avalanchurus starri). A prehistoric trilobite was named after Keith Richards (Perirehaedulus richardsi) with another named for Mick Jagger (Aegrotocatellus jaggeri), as well as a species of snail (Anomphalus jaggerius). There is even a Mozart ostracod, and a Beethoven isopod.

Freddie Mercury, Sting, Lemmy Kilmister, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, and so many more have lent their names to newly found species.

Courtesy of The John R Cash Trust / Shorefire Media

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