Lady Gaga has millions of fans, but now the pop music mega-star is making headlines for her many ferns.
A new genus of ferns, 19 in all, has been given the name Gaga in honor of the eccentric singer and because some of the ferns resemble some of her many outlandish costumes.
Lady Gaga as seen at the 2010 Grammy Awards, wearing a costume that closely resembles a new fern now named in her honor. Image credit: Duke University.
Also, the ferns boast a DNA sequence spelling GAGA (guanine, adenine, guanine, adenine), which distinguishes this group of ferns from all others.
The ferns were discovered in South and Central America, Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Most are existing species that were under consideration for reclassification, but two species are new to science.
According to Duke Today, Gaga germanotta (Costa Rica) was named to honor the family of the artist, who was born Stefani Germanotta. Another newly discovered species in Mexico is dubbed Gaga monstraparva (monster-like), in honor of Gaga’s fans, whom she sometimes refers to as “little monsters.”
These revelations were made during research conducted by Duke University.
“We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression,” said study leader Kathleen Pryer, a biology professor and director of the Duke Herbarium. “And as we started to consider it, the ferns themselves gave us more reasons why it was a good choice.”
The scientists cited Lady Gaga’s performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards, while wearing a heart-shaped Armani Prive costume with towering shoulder fabric that, according to Pryer, closely resembled the bisexual reproductive stages of the ferns (called a gametophyte).
The shape and color were close matches, Pryer said.
Of course, what clinched the decision to name the new genus Gaga was the discovery, by graduate student Fay-Wei Li, that GAGA was spelled out the DNA signature.
Duke Today points out that other celebrity species are quite numerous. For example, a California lichen has been named for President Barack Obama; a meat-eating jungle plant was named for actress Helen Mirren; and more recently an Australian horse fly described as being “bootylicious” by the person who discovered the insect, is named for singer Beyonce.
But Lady Gaga has them all beat, with 19 plants boasting her moniker.
Said Pryer: “We often listen to her music while we do our research. We think that her second album, ‘Born this Way,’ is enormously empowering, especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women–and scientists who study odd ferns!”
The Duke University Research, reclassification effort that utilized new tools for genetic analysis, was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.