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: Fern Genus Named for Music Genius Lady Gaga



From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published October 24, 2012 09:23 AM

Fern Genus Named for Music Genius Lady Gaga

When you discover a new species, you get to name it. Whether you name it after yourself or dedicate it to an idol, recent discoveries have led to some interesting and creative species names. From a California lichen named Caloplaca obamae for President Barack Obama to an Australian horse fly donned Scaptia beyonceae for singer Beyoncé, to beetle species named for George Bush and Kate Winslet, many celebrity namesakes are chosen for these newly discovered species.

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And now we have a whole genus of 19 fern species dedicated to Lady Gaga.

Pop music singer and songwriter Lady Gaga is being honored with the name of a new genus of ferns found in Central and South America, Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

Two newly discovered species are now being dubbed: Gaga germanotta in honor of the musician's last name and Gaga monstraparva (literally monster-little) in honor of Gaga's fans, whom she calls "little monsters."

"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."

Further confirmation of choosing the right name comes from Gaga's performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards, where she donned a heart-shaped Armani Privé outfit with giant shoulders that ironically resembled the bisexual reproductive stage of the ferns, called a gametophyte.

Also, when graduate student Fay-Wei Li scanned the DNA of the ferns being considered for the new genus, he found "GAGA" spelled out in the DNA base pairs as a signature that distinguishes this group of ferns from all others.

The Gaga ferns had previously been assigned to the genus Cheilanthes based on their physical characteristics, but after the DNA analysis of more than 80 museum specimens and newly collected plants, researchers determined they are distinct enough to he classified under their own genus.

"The biology of these ferns is exceptionally obscure and blurred by sexual crossing between species," Pryer said. "They have high numbers of chromosomes and asexuality that can lead to offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant."

As a fan of Lady Gaga, I like the name dedication. But if you were to discover the genus or a new species, what would you think of?

Read more at Duke University.

Image via DukeTODAY.

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