ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

There's no doubt that as the years have passed, celebrities have become incredibly influential in our lives — constantly bombarding TV, cinema and phone screens with their presence. But did you realize that the influence of our favorite celebs not only extends to the entertainment industry, but also to the animal kingdom, the judicial system and even into outer space? No? Me either.

Prepare to have you mind blown as you take a look at these seven very different things which have all been named after some of our most beloved celebrities:

1. Robin Williams's minor planet

On May 11, 1996 Spacewatch, a project that specializes in the study of minor planets, discovered minor planet 12820 at Kitt Peak National Observatory. And, in 2003, that same minor planet was named after actor and comedian Robin Williams! The naming of the planet was particularly apt given that Williams's first big break was in the sci-fi comedy TV series Mork & Mindy. In the series Williams played Mork, an alien from the planet Ork sent to earth to observe human behavior.

Many other stars (pun intended) have also had minor planets named after them, including: Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Jodie Foster, Sandra Bullock, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and David Lynch among many, many others.

2. Irwin's turtle

Steven, Bob and Bindi Irwin and Irwin's Turtle
Steven, Bob and Bindi Irwin and Irwin's Turtle

Not only was Irwin's turtle (or Elseya irwini) named after the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and his father Bob Irwin, it was also discovered by them! Bob Irwin caught the turtle on a family camping trip in the early '80s, and after Steve Irwin photographed the animal and sent the images to turtle expert John Cann, it was confirmed as a new species. The Irwin's turtle only lives in the Broken-Bower river system in Queensland, Australia.

In addition to the turtle, in 2009 a snail was also named Crikey steveirwini in Steve's honor.

3. The Streisand effect

The aerial image which resulted in the Streisand effect
The aerial image which resulted in the Streisand effect

The Streisand effect is a phenomenon which happens after an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information actually (unintentionally) results in the publicizing of that information. It received its name after Barbra Streisand tried to suppress an image of her Malibu home, which was one of 12,000 photographs taken to document coastal erosion in the area. However, Streisand's lawsuit against the photographer and image hosting services drew enormous media and public attention, meaning the image was viewed thousands of times more than it otherwise would have been.

This also happened after Beyoncé's publicist tried to have "some unflattering photos" of the singer removed from a Buzzfeed article about her 2013 Halftime show at the Super Bowl. Instead, Buzzfeed chose to post the publicists email and the photos in question in a separate article.

4. The Angelina Jolie trapdoor spider

Jolie and a female Angelina Jolie trapdoor spider
Jolie and a female Angelina Jolie trapdoor spider

In 2008 Auburn University professor Jason Bond named a type of trapdoor spider after actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie! The spider is known as the Angelina Jolie trapdoor spider, or by its binomial name, Aptostichus angelinajolieae. While it might seem mildly insulting to name a spider after an actress, it was actually done in recognition of Jolie's work on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (read more about Jolie's extensive humanitarian work over here). In 2011 an apartment block built to house Bosnian refugees was also named after Jolie.

There are also types of trapdoor spider called Bono's Joshua Tree trapdoor spider, (named after U2's lead singer Bono and the band's 1987 album The Joshua Tree) and the Barack Obama trapdoor spider.

5. The Gaga ferns

Gaga in the Grammy outfit which inspired the name
Gaga in the Grammy outfit which inspired the name

In 2012 a whole genus of ferns was named after singer Lady Gaga (a.k.a. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta). The ferns are found in Central and South America, Mexico, Arizona and Texas, and altogether the genus is made up of 19 species of ferns. Of those 19, one is also named Gaga germanotta (after Gaga's family name), and one is named Gaga monstraparva to honor Gaga's fans, whom she called her "little monsters."

The name proved especially perfect for these ferns when it was found that the bisexual reproductive stage of the ferns (gametophyte) clearly resembled a dress Lady Gaga wore to the 52nd Grammy Awards. But not only that, GAGA (standing for guanine, adenine, guanine and adenine) was also found spelled out in the DNA base pairs of the genus.

6. The 'Tom Cruise Law'

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise

Objections to Tom Cruise buying a sonogram machine for then-wife, Katie Holmes during her pregnancy brought about the passing of the "Tom Cruise Law." The law (also knows as bill AB2360) bans the sale of diagnostic ultrasound machines to those not appropriately licensed.

7. Tobey Maguire's Spider crab

Not only did Tobey Maguire bring the character Spider-Man to life in three Spider-Man films, but he's also provided the inspiration for the name of the newly established genus Maguimithrax, which is a type of spider crab! The crab in question, which is also known as the West Indian spider crab, is found throughout South Florida and across the Caribbean islands, and can reach sizes of up to 4.4lbs!

Not only was Maguire the inspiration for this spider crab, his name was also used to name a new species of Iranian spiders, Filistata maguirei.

What would you name after a celebrity?

Source: Know Your Meme,, PeerJ,


Latest from our Creators