Dr. Patrick Krug (whose terrific talk I attended yesterday) discovered a new species of sacoglossid sea slug some years ago. Alderia willowi sports a fetching yellow racing stripe and is the only slug in the world that can have sex with itself. It’s also the only organism of any kind that can swich back and forth from laying lots of tiny eggs (planktotrophic) to laying a few large eggs (lecithotrophic). It’s quite the fabulous slug.
And now I’ve got a nerd-crush on Dr. Krug, because A. willowi is named after none other than Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Dr. Krug explains:
In recognition of these peculiar and special features of my slug, I wanted to name the species after some mythological figure who captured the spirit of sexual flexibility. Obviously, Willow was the only sensible choice — my favorite character, and of great personal significance to me; and portrayed by the best actress on TV, to boot. I also (in the paper where I formally describe the species) became the first scientist to slide the phrase “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” into a peer-reviewed journal article… no easy task, that… and I do give a shout-out to Alyson by name as well.