In J.R.R. Tolkeins's fantasy epic "The Lord of the Rings", a hobbit discovers a giant in the caves under Mt. Doom.
More recently, another famous hobbit helped discover a much smaller kind of spider. And the researchers who get credit for it named Ctenus monaghani after him.
Actor Dominic Monaghan, who played Hobbit Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybock in the recent motion picture trilogy, has a new nature documentary called “Wild Things” and Dr. Peter Jäger, expert consultant to the “Wild Things” team in the forests and caves of Laos, discovered the new, eight-legged critter and named it after the actor in recognition of Monaghan's natural world enthusiasm, which even extends to inconspicuous and unpopular animals such as spiders.
Ctenus monaghani (c) Peter Jäger/Senckenberg
“He places nature in the foreground in a very special manner,” says Jäger, when explaining the dedication of the new spider species. The spider expert also appeared in front of the camera with the actor in a river cave when Monaghan got to meet his eight-legged namesake in its natural habitat.
Ctenus is a spider genus with many representatives. The smallest of them are less than one centimetre in body length, while particularly large species can reach to more than 3 centimeters. The genus Ctenus belongs to the so-called wandering spiders, which roam along the jungle floor at night and catch their prey without a web.
Whoever is the first to discover a new species is allowed to name it. Its membership of a genus is determined necessarily by the physical features of the creature, but the species name – the second word of the term – can be chosen freely, subject to certain rules of nomenclature.
Nice work, Mr. Monaghan. Keep raising money to advocate science and the next one could be named after your "Lost" character, Charlie Pace.
Citation: JÄGER, P. (2013) Ctenus monaghani spec. nov., a nocturnal hunter from the forest floor in Laos (Araneae: Ctenidae) — Zootaxa 3670 (1): 091–093 dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3670.1
Ctenus Monaghani : A Hobbit Helps Find A Spider Far From Mt. Doom