Woody: Ouch, Johnny Cash bit me!
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 11:50 am
By LARRY WOODY
Scientists recently named a newly-discovered species of tarantula "Johnny Cash" because it dresses in black, has a duck-tail pompadour and sings in a deep bass voice.
Just kidding. They named the big, hairy spider Johnny Cash because it was discovered in the region around Folsom State Prison, the notorious California slammer made famous by Johnny Cash (the singer) who recorded a live album there.
He performed before a captive audience.
It would have been criminal not to attend.
When Johnny announced it was time for a break, the guards got nervous.
He weighed the pros and cons of an encore.
OK, I'll stop.
Back to the tarantula: I always assumed that newly-discovered species were named after the scientists who found them. They were usually given the scientist's name, along with some fancy-sounding Latin suffix.
If, for example, entomologist Bob Smith discovered a new kind of potato bug, it would be named in his honor. However, it wouldn't be called simply the "Bob Smith Tater Bug, " but rather the "Robertsmithititous Potatobuguss." Or something like that.
So in reading the story about the new Johnny Cash Tarantula I was surprised to learn that naming spiders after celebrity singers is not that uncommon.
There are arachnids named after Buddy Holly, Lou Reed, John Lennon, Neil Young, David Bowie and now Johnny Cash.
It's not clear why it's only spiders that get named after famous singers. Why, for instance, wouldn't a new species of earthworm deserve a similar honor? (The Wayne Newton Wiggler.)
Or the Barry Manilow Grasshopper? It can often be heard chirping softly in elevators.
How about a new termite christened for Willie Nelson? ("Hello Terminix? Can you send an exterminator over right away? Willie Nelsons are eating my house.")
It's also interesting that the celebrity spiders are all named after guys: Buddy, Lou, John, Neil, David and Johnny. That reeks of male-bug chauvinism. The Lady Bugs shouldn't be left out.
Maybe a female Johnny Cash Tarantula could be named June Carter.
We could have the Madonna Moth, the Beyonce Bed Bug and the Dixie Chicks Chicken Mite.
If Miley Cyrus had a bug named after her it might be a tad risque. Perhaps the Twerking Sand Flea. It hops around shaking its hiney in the air.
I'm not sure that having an insect named after you is really an honor. Most bugs are irritating little pests (the Cher Chigger and the Justin Bieber Skeeter come to mind).
I suppose having a Kate Upton Supermodel Butterfly flit through your window and light on your knee wouldn't be too bad. But would anyone be thrilled if a big-eyed, sharp-fanged, hair-bristling Johnny Cash Tarantula suddenly dropped down their neck?
That would be almost as bad as the Bob Dylan Intestinal Tape Worm.