Velvet spider species discovered in Iran named after ‘Joker’ star Joaquin Phoenix

It’s not the usual way actors are rewarded, but Joaquin Phoenix now has a spider named in his honour.

The Loureedia phoenixi velvet spider was discovered in a remote corner of Iran and has been identified as an ode to the Oscar-winning star of the “Joker” by researchers at the University of Turku in Finland.

“The new species is named after the American actor, producer and animal rights activist Joaquin Phoenix in recognition of his praised portrayal of the title character in the 2019 movie ‘Joker’ and as a reference to the
male abdominal pattern of the new species, which resembles
the famous facial makeup of this character,” researchers wrote this summer in the journal Anthropoda Selecta.

The new species is black and white with splashes of red in its back. It’s fuzzy with thick, glossy hair.

It is, in sum, very cool looking.

Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar for best actor for his 2019 portrayal of the Joker.

It’s also the first of the genus to be found outside of the Mediterranean — an area that is about 1,500 kilometres beyond the known geographical distribution of the Loureedia genus.

Researchers got up close with specimens from Alborz Province of Iran.

Study author Alireza Zamani said only a few of this genus of velvet spiders are known to science. And this one just happens to be “super beautiful.”

“They are very shy in their habits so discovering a new species was a great and welcome surprise,” Zamani said in a statement. “The species in this genus are amazingly beautiful and colourful so I wish this new discovery can make people understand the beauty and importance of spiders.”

Researchers suggest of the world’s 15 million different species, perhaps 2 million have been reported by scientists.

And while spiders may be creepy to some, they can do wonders for people.

“Discovering new species is important as it helps to protect them,” the university added. “Furthermore, new species can also produce compounds that could lead to the development of new medicine.”

Still the humour of the celebrity naming is not lost on the arachnology set.

And in case you’re wondering, the genus Loureedia is indeed a tip of the hat to musician Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground.

The species does in fact, live underground.

Photos: University of Turku/Anthropoda Selecta

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