Spider scientist names 54 species after David Bowie

Timothy James M. Dimacali

Posted at Aug 05 2022 04:46 AM

PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Jäger/ Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum
Bowie rebelrebel (pictured) is one of 54 species of Asian huntsman spider classified under a new genus, Bowie gen. nov., by German arachnologist Dr. Peter Jäger. PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Jäger/ Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum

The Asian cousins of a common spider in the Philippines have just been named after international music icon David Bowie.

Arachnologist Dr. Peter Jäger from the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Germany recently announced the discovery of 54 new species of the Asian huntsman spider and classified them under the new genus, Bowie gen. nov.

“When examining species from a predominantly Asian lineage in this family, I soon realized that they could not be assigned to any preexisting genus,” Jäger explained in a press release. 

“I therefore dedicated this new genre to David Bowie and called it simply Bowie!”

This is not the first time that Jäger has honored the musician. 

In 2008, he announced the discovery of the huntsman spider species Heteropoda davidbowie. 

He said that the occasion of Bowie’s 75th birthday in 2022 was an excellent opportunity to once more pay homage to his favorite musician as well as to promote public awareness of the need for wildlife conservation.

“I wanted to commemorate this incomparable artist who left us much too early, but what matters most to me here is the idea of conservation: We only protect what we know—and an attractive name is much more likely to be remembered,” he said.

Huntsman spiders are usually brown and long-legged, and can grow fairly large, often with legspans as wide as an open human hand or more. 

Aptly named because they don’t make webs, instead preferring to roam at night in search of prey, they are found in tropical areas all over the world. 

In the Philippines, the huntsman species Heteropoda venatoria is a common sight in homes and rural areas which is harmless to humans and actually welcomed because it preys on cockroaches.

Jäger’s work was published in the journal Zootaxa on August 4.