Michael Jackson Lends Name to Prehistoric Hermit Crab, Mesoparapylocheles Michaeljacksoni

Crab walk, meet moon walk. In a new paper, an international team of scientists announced the discovery of a new family of prehistoric hermit crabs and made a novel tribute to Michael Jackson at the same time. The paper, published this month in German journal Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, details the discovery of the first known species in the family. Its name? Mesoparapylocheles michaeljacksoni.

No, the crab doesn't dance or change color over time; the name was the result of a coincidence. The specimen was identified June 25, 2009, and the researchers were in a restaurant later that day when they saw on TV that the King of Pop had died.

"Michael Jackson's music will no doubt live a very long time and influence many people so I think the name is appropriate," said co-author Adiël Klompmaker, a Ph.D. candidate in Department of Geology at Kent State.

The crab, which lived in Northern Spain around 100 million years ago, was a surprising find. According to a statement released by Kent State, hermit crab fossils like the one the team found are "much rarer than those of true crabs...Today, less than a dozen of these [fossils] are known and a great deal of information concerning the evolution of this group remains undiscovered."

We might never have heard of the discovery if not for the MJ reference. Naming new species after celebrities isn't uncommon; keep clicking for 8 more examples:

Organisms Named After Celebrities