Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Rings and starships: A new shark embraces pop culture

I couldn't let this one go past without commenting on it. Today in Zootaxa, a description was published today that has references to two highly regarded elements of pop culture in the past 50 years. Gollum suluensis is a deep water shark from the Philippines whose name calls to mind Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, and Captain Sulu from Star Trek.

Before latin scholars point out that the -ensis suffix to the specific name refers to a place not to a person, I will clarify the specific name actually refers to the Sulu Sea. The generic name though is genuine. Established in 1973 by Leonard Compagno, the original description gives this explanation for the name:
Gollum (treated as a masculine noun), named for the antihero of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, to whom this shark bears some resemblane in form and habits.
Appropriately enough, the type species lurks around New Zealand.

Compagno LJV. 1973. Ctenacis and Gollum, two new genera of sharks (Selachii: Carcharhinidae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 4(39): 257–272.

Last PR, Gaudiano JP. 2011. Gollum suluensis sp. nov. (Carcharhiniformes: Pseudotriakidae), a new gollumshark from the southern Philippines. Zootaxa 3002: 17-30.

1 comment:

nath said...

Captain Sulu is also named after the sea!