Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal
Scientists have recently come across a new type of acorn worm, and they have named it after America’s favorite Star Wars character, Yoda.
The reddish-purple worm was discovered approximately 1.5 miles beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The creature has large lips on both sides of its head, reminding researchers of the floppy-eared Jedi master. Its full scientific name is Yoda purpurata, meaning “purple Yoda.”
Researchers found Yoda along with two other new species of acorn worm using a remotely operated submersible during the ECOMAR research program, in which they search for new animals along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge seafloor between Iceland and the Azores.
Shallow water acorn worms are rarely seen as they typically live in burrows. Deep sea worms live on the seafloor, leaving spiral traces of feces that have been seen in fossil form. But until now, the source of these spiral traces was unknown.
Scientists are interested in these deep sea species, because they are close to the evolutionary link between vertebrates and invertebrates.
But this acorn worm is not the only species named after a famous character. Other examples include a horse fly named Beyoncé, an isopod named Freddie Mercury, as well as slime mold beetles named after George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.