New Coral Reef Crustacean Named After Sir Elton John

Posted: Aug 31 2015, 10:48am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

New Coral Reef Crustacean named after Sir Elton John
Leucothoe eltoni, new crustacean species, from Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo Credit: Dr. James Thomas

Leucothoe eltoni. A newly discovered crustacean has been named after Elton John.

Scientists name a crustacean after music legend Sir Elton John.

Dr. James Thomas from the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, Florida, and his colleagues from Naturalis Natural History museum in the Netherlands made the discovery in the remote coral reefs of Raja Ampat in Indonesia.

The small crustacean is living inside another reef invertebrate in a commensal association. The strange living situation is without causing any harm, nor benefit to its host.

Dr. Thomas called it L. eltoni after musician and actor Sir Elton John, because of its unusual form.

"I named the species in honor of Sir Elton John because I have listened to his music in my lab during my entire scientific career," the lead author explains. "So, when this unusual crustacean with a greatly enlarged appendage appeared under my microscope after a day of collecting, an image of the shoes Elton John wore as the Pinball Wizard came to mind."

Taxonomists, scientists who study and name new species, have the choice to pick names that are relevant to locations, features of the animal, or people the scientist admires.

L. eltoni has now been spotted in Hawaiian waters and reported as an invasive species.

"Several years ago I was contacted by scientists from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu to help identify an unusual amphipod they had collected," said Thomas.

It turned out that it was the same species as the one from Indonesia.

The most likely scenario for its introduction into Hawaiian waters was as a hitchhiker inside its host sponge or tunicate that was attached to a large floating drydock transported to Hawaii from Subic Bay, Philippines.

Marine animals can have unknown effects when transported to other ecosystems where they can compete with native species.

"Such studies show the importance of regular environmental monitoring, especially in tropical environments," commented the scientist.

​Thomas J. D. (2015) Leucothoe eltoni sp. n., a new species of commensal leucothoid amphipod from coral reefs in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Crustacea, Amphipoda). ZooKeys 518: 51-66. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.518.9340.

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