Here’s a photo of a sea slug, Alderia willowi. They’re a few millimeters long, and they’re endemic to California.
And here’s a photo of Willow Rosenberg, a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She starts off the show (apparently) straight, but later comes out as a lesbian. (Oddly enough, she’s also endemic to California.)
Side note: the Wikipedia article for Willow Rosenberg – who, to reiterate, is a fictional character – is approximately twenty-five times longer than the article for the sea slug, which is an actual living thing. There’s something hilarious about that.
Willow. Alderia willowi. The names…that’s just a coincidence, right?
To quote the biologist who discovered it, Patrick Krug:
[The] name is a tribute to…the character of Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer who displayed a similar flexibility in sexual behavior.
When I found this out, it was literally the best thing to happen to me that entire day.
Because a biologist is a Buffy fan? No, although that’s cool. Because he actually picked a specific Buffy character based on the behavior of the organism? No, although that’s even cooler.
My very favorite thing is that Alderia willowi is now the official name for this animal. Nobody else can change it. If you want to study it, you have to write Alderia willowi in your research paper. If you want to give a talk on it, that’s the name you have to give.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is now, irrevocably, part of the edifice of scientific knowledge.
It’s the simple things, you know?
(P.S. Yes, I’m aware that scientific names can, under certain circumstances, change. DO NOT RUIN THIS FOR ME.)