An East Carolina University biologist has brought his admiration of Neil Young into a class of its own.
Or species, to be exact.
Jason Bond, an ECU professor of biology, has named a newly discovered trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, after the legendary rock star.
“There are rather strict rules about how you name new species,” Bond said. “As long as these rules are followed you can give a new species just about any name you please. With regards to Neil Young, I really enjoy his music and have had a great appreciation of him as an activist for peace and justice.”
In 2007, Bond discovered the new spider species in Jefferson Co., Ala, and later co-wrote a paper with Norman I. Platnick, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, on the genus.
Bond received $750,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation in 2005 and 2006 to classify the trapdoor spider species and contribute to the foundation’s Tree of Life project. He is both a spider systematist – someone who studies organisms and how they are classified – and taxonomist – someone who classifies new species.
Spiders in the trapdoor genus are distinguished on the basis of differences in genitalia, Bond said, from one species to the next. He confirmed through the spider’s DNA that the Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi is an identifiable, separate species of spider within the trapdoor genus.