Why I Love Science, Reason #84,772

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.)

5 responses to “Why I Love Science, Reason #84,772

  1. The part about Wikipedia made me laugh. I remember noting a while ago that various fictional elements and forces from the Star Trek and Star Wars universes are covered in much more loving detail in Wikipedia than most elements and forces which actually exist.

    Science is indeed cool. I read a few reviews yesterday of the Pono music player — developed and promoted by Neil Young — and it was pointed out that if you do actual blind A-B testing with actual people that nobody can really hear the difference in sound that the device theoretically provides. But the ads, of course, don’t provide science; they provide enthusiastic endorsements from people like Tom Petty and Elvis Costello.

  2. I remember reading about a harry potter influenced scientific name, but I can’t find the article…

    anyways, here are some other scientific names that are pretty sweet! I found these in an effort to find the harry potter one.


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