Newly Discovered Species of Chewing Lice Named After Darth Vader

Posted on March 1, 2016

Ricinus vaderi

Scientists in Russia have discovered a new species of chewing lice. The lice has been named Ricinus vaderi after Star Wars villain Darth Vader. The Ricinus genus of chewing lice parasitize birds in the order Passeriformes.

The scientists say in their report that Darth Vader's name was used because of a similarity between the head of the lice and Darth Vader's helmet. The author's write, "This species name is derived from Darth Vader, a fictional character in the Star Wars trilogy. The first author's fiancee noticed a similarity between the head of the R. vaderi and Darth Vader's helmet."

The scientists studied 107 specimens of 10 different chewing lice species on 60 different slides at the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Entomology Today says these specimens are part of a bigger collection that was assembled from 1930 to 1970.

You can find the research report here on the Parasite Journal website.

Image: Miroslav Valan, et. al./Parasite Journal

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