While there are a large number of celebrities - from David Hasselhoff
to Stephen Colbert
- who have been immortalized in the names of newly discovered organisms, this is the first time I can remember someone scoring an entire genus.
Lady Gaga, the 26-year-old pop star phenom, received this rare honor after researchers at Duke University named a new genus of 19 different species of fern "Gaga."
"We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression," said study leader Kathleen Pryer
, a Duke University biology professor and director of the Duke Herbarium. "And as we started to consider it, the ferns themselves gave us more reasons why it was a good choice."
Pryer cited a costume worn by Gaga during the 2010 Grammy Awards, a heart-shaped Armani Prive' costume with giant shoulders, that also apparently looks just like the bisexual reproductive stage of the ferns. It was even the right shade of green, she added.
"We often listen to her music while we do our research," added Pryer. "We think that her second album, 'Born this Way,' is enormously empowering, especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women -- and scientists who study odd ferns!"
This isn't Lady Gaga's first brush with scientific naming. Last month
, scientists at the University of Thailand named a new species of parasitic wasp Aleiodes gaga.