Sunday, May 1, 2016

Scientists Name New Species of Weevil After Chewbacca

By: Dominic Jones

A team of researchers discovered several new species of Trigonopterus Fauvel recently and chose to name one of them after everyone's favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca!  The new weevil's were discovered by scientists Matthew H. Van Dam, Raymond Laufa, Alexander Riedel, after spending ten days on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. 

The explained their decision to name the Weevil after Chewie in their paper announcing the finds, published in ZooKeys last week, saying that,

This epithet is a noun in apposition and based on the likeable fictional character Chewbacca in George Lucas’ Star Wars movies, portrayed primarily by Peter Mayhew. This species has dense scales on the head and the legs, which reminds the authors of Chewbacca’s dense fur."

Though they share the name Chewbacca, the Trigonopterus chewbacca and Wookiees don't have much in common.  For starters, the Trigonopterus chewbacca is only about 2.78 to 3.13 mm long, whereas Peter Mayhew is 2.21 m tall.

This isn't the first time a species has been named after a Star Wars character.  Last March researchers named a new species of cat fish after the bounty hunter Greedo, in 2012 a spider was named after the Sarlacc pit, and in 1996 a species of tree mites were named after Darth Vader.  (If you're interested in more species named after Star Wars characters, Live Science has a fun list here).

Sources: ZooKeys, USA Today

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