A Wormy (and Nerdy) Conquest of the Deep

There are all kinds of reasons why Paulo Bonifácio and  Lénaïck Menot have nerd clout.  There is, of course, the fact that they just described and named 17 new species of polychaete worm.  That is 17 new species completely unknown to science.   The work comes from the exploration of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ), the largest polymetallic nodule field in the world, with ~6 million km2 of seabed lying between 4000 and 6000 m depth.

But true nerd credit was earned by the pair for the names that were given to these new species blending their love of nerd culture and taxonomy.

So first up is hat tip to Game of Thrones.

Abyssarya acus gen. nov., sp. nov.

This genus is dedicated to Arya Stark, one of P.B.’s favourite characters in the novel ‘A song of ice and fire’ by George R. R. Martin. The name is composed by ‘abyss’ from the Latin word ‘ăbyssus’ meaning ‘bottomless’ and Arya….The species name came from Latin ‘ăcŭs’ meaning ‘needle’. It refers to modified neurochaetae present on segment 2 similar to a ‘crochet needle’.

And perhaps this little nod to White Walkers

Bathyfauvelia glacigena sp. nov.

The species name glacigena means ‘ice-born’, which is composed by borrowing from the Latin word ‘glăcĭēs’ meaning ‘ice’ and the Greek word ‘gennó, γεννώ’ meaning ‘born’. It refers to white ganglia like ice.

And where there are the ice borns there are the fire borns! Surely these are clans in a fantasy fiction somewhere?

Bathyfauvelia ignigena sp. nov.

Species named from the ‘ignĭgĕna’, a poetical epithet of Bacchus meaning ‘fire-born’, which is composed by borrowing from the Latin word ‘ignis’ meaning ‘fire’ and the Greek word ‘gennó, γεννώ’ meaning ‘born’.

And my only comment about this is YASSSSS!

Hodor hodor gen. nov., sp. nov.

This genus [and species are] dedicated to Hodor, one of P.B.’s favourite characters in the novel ‘A song of ice and fire’ by George R. R. Martin.

And in a moment of cross exchange sure to rial up nerds everywhere is Hodor anduril

The species name is derived from the sword named ‘andúril’ meaning ‘Flame of the West’ and belonging to Aragorn in the novel ‘The lord of the rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien. It refers to the sword-like modified neurochaetae present in this species.

And let’s not leave out the hipster worm

Macellicephaloides moustachu sp. nov.

The species name came from the French word ‘moustachu’ meaning ‘with a moustache’. It refers to the palps directed ventrally, giving the impression that the worm has a moustache.

Now to strut that mythology knowledge.

Nu aakhu gen. nov., sp. nov.

In the ancient Egyptian religion, ‘Nu’ refers to the deification of the primordial watery abyss whence all life came, also known as ‘the Father of the Gods’ and ‘the Eldest’….Again, in the ancient Egyptian religion, ‘áakhu’ is one of the elements that compose the human soul. An ‘áakhu’ is the glorified spirit or a blessed soul which has passed the final judgement (the Weighing of the Heart). The term refers to the translucent character of the body of this worm.

However, the best name is this loving tribute.

Bathyeliasona mariaae sp. nov.

This species is dedicated to Maria Silva, mother of P.B., for her love.

Paulo Bonifácio, Lénaïck Menot; New genera and species from the Equatorial Pacific provide phylogenetic insights into deep-sea Polynoidae (Annelida), Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, , zly063, https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zly063

Dr. M (1785 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.


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