dazzling, deep purple fins and a yellow head
July 16, 2019 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Purple fairy wrasse named Wakanda discovered on reef in twilight zone "Scuba divers have discovered a new fish – a vibrant purple fairy wrasse. They have named it Cirrhilabrus wakanda" [New Scientist]

Cirrhilabrus wakanda, a new species of fairy wrasse from mesophotic ecosystems of Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa (Teleostei, Labridae) by Yi-Kai Tea, Hudson T. Pinheiro, Bart Shepherd, Luiz A. Rocha [Research Article in ZooKeys]
posted by readinghippo (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like the Etymology paragraph of the article:

"The specific epithet refers to the fictional East African nation of Wakanda, home of the superhero Black Panther, as is the case for the new species, which has remained hidden from the world for a long time. To be treated as a noun in apposition. The common name refers to the fictional metal vibranium, a rare substance found on Wakanda that is woven into Black Panther’s suit. The purple chain-link scale pattern of the new species is reminiscent of this detail."
posted by readinghippo at 11:25 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


“A fish called Wakanda” as a section heading is giving me life right now.
posted by romakimmy at 12:15 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


That is a very cool-looking fish.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:27 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Scientists identify an exquisite creature that has taken eons to evolve, and only lives in this very particular coral reef ecosystem in eastern Zanzibar, Tanzania, a place that has had its own languages and cultural traditions and myths for millennia. And they name it after an American entertainment corporation's trendy intellectual property. And everyone thinks this is just wonderful. Okay.
posted by oulipian at 12:31 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


And they name it after an American entertainment corporation's trendy intellectual property. And everyone thinks this is just wonderful. Okay.

On the one hand - naming new species after pop culture items or celebrities is not unheard of, and it may have the benefit of fostering an interest in science in the lay community (an article about a new species of fish is a bore, an article about a new species of fish "and they named it after Wakanda!" attracts a lot more attention).

On the other, though - you make a very good point, and I got curious and tried to search for some kind of reference to show "lists of the origins for species toxonomy" or something. I feel like there must be other species whose names are derived from non-Western-Canon sources, but I can't find confirmation; the only list i've turned up is Wikipedia's "list of organisms named after celebrities". And the fact that that's the only list I've been able to find itself feels wrong.

Does such a comprehensive "where we got the names for various species" guide exist?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on July 16


It's an honest mistake. The divers came up and asked the scientists, "wakanda fish is this?"
posted by SPrintF at 12:50 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


Does such a comprehensive "where we got the names for various species" guide exist?

Not comprehensive, but you might like Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature - Etymology: Names from Mythology at CuriousTaxonomy.net
posted by readinghippo at 1:03 PM on July 16


That is a very cool-looking fish.

It's not bad looking and I don't mean to be scale shaming but by fairy wrasse standards I would say it is actually kind of drab. It's just a remarkably vibrant family.
posted by mark k at 9:21 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Whoa - ok, I stand spectacularly corrected!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:31 PM on July 16


I finally got around to mentioning this to my boss where I volunteer once a week and he was like yeah dude that was us. California Academy of Sciences :facepalm:
posted by pagrus at 4:21 PM on July 28


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