Botanists are experts in plant culture, not pop culture. Or so you thought. Scientists at Duke University took steps today to dismiss such stereotypes by naming a newly found genus of plants after one of the biggest names in the world: Lady Gaga.
Mother Monster was bestowed the unlikely honor recently when Kathleen Pryer, a professor of biology at Duke and director of the school’s herbarium, named not one but 19 new species of fern (all under one genus) after the pop star.
It isn’t every day that a new species is discovered, so why classify them under a name that might outshine the discovery itself?
“Because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression,” Pryer explained in a statement to the New York Times. “We think that her second album, ‘Born this Way,’ is enormously empowering, especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women…”
As it turns out, an admiration for Gaga’s work for equal rights wasn’t Pryer’s only reason.
The fern reproduces by spores that can grow into plants that could end up being male, female, or bisexual (apparently even plants can go both ways). In the past, Gaga has discussed her relationships with women, and she is a fervent supporter of anyone and anything bisexual — fauna included. Also, a graduate student studying the base pairs of the genus’ DNA discovered that the letters GAGA appear in the plant’s sequence.
So, what names came about from this meant-to-be designation? “Gaga germanotta” borrows from the singer’s real name (Stefani Germanotta), and another, “Gaga monstraparva”, uses the Latin translation of “little monsters”.
The announcement of Gaga’s newest namesake comes little more than a month after researchers abroad named a new species of insect after her. Aleiodes Gaga, a new type of parasitoid wasp, was found in Thailand not long ago, and bears the singer’s moniker as well.