Greedo (left) and Peckoltia greedoi (right). (Courtesy of starwarshelmets.com and Auburn University)

Getting to name a species of animal gives scientists an opportunity to show off a little creativity and flair.

Jonathan Armbruster hit the pitch-perfect balance between pizzaz and staying true to the creature when he named a previously unidentified catfish after a "Star Wars" character. Just look at the side-by-side comparison of Greedo and the fish above; Armbruster couldn't have been more on point.

The professor and fish curator for Auburn University Museum of Natural History named the fish Peckoltia greedoi, as described in an article published in ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed open access journal. Auburn's David Werneke and Milton Tan were co-authors.

Armbruster holding holding a species of hardhead catfish in Papua New Guinea. (Armbruster/Auburn University) Armbruster holding holding a species of hardhead catfish in Papua New Guinea. (Armbruster/Auburn University)

In a video published by Auburn, Armbruster describes examining a specimen of the fish in his lab, which was first found in Brazil in 1998.

"We were trying to figure out what the characteristics on it were," he said. "We share a lab with some arachnologists, and one of them looked at it and said, 'You know, that looks like that guy from "Star Wars."'"

Armbruster and his colleagues figured out the arachnologist had been referring to Greedo. "As soon as we heard that, we knew what the species would be," Armbruster said.

Here is Greedo's official Star Wars.com description:

Greedo was a Rodian bounty hunter with a tapir-like snout, bulbous eyes, pea-green skin, and a crest of spines atop his skull. He was overzealous and a bit slow on the take, not to mention a pretty poor shot with a blaster. Though he fancied himself a big time bounty hunter in the employ of no less an underworld figure than Jabba the Hutt, in truth, no one took him too seriously.

Spoiler alert, if you never saw the first "Star Wars" film (no judgments!): Greedo's screen time was ... brief.

"He barely had any lines, they were spoken in a foreign language with subtitles, and he was killed right away," Armbuster said.

The character is also the subject of an ongoing debate over who shot first: Han Solo or Greedo. He has since become a fan favorite.

Now, Armbruster -- a lifelong "Star Wars" fan -- has memorialized Greedo forever via the Peckoltia greedoi.

Says the paper's Peckoltia greedoi etymology section:

Named for Greedo of Rodia, a bounty hunter killed by Han Solo in Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina in the movie 'Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope' (Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox, 1977) with whom this species shares a remarkable resemblance.

greedo

The fish belongs to the suckermouth armored catfish family, which includes more than 800 species. The Greedo fish is small-to-medium in size and has large, dark eyes and a "uniformly colored" head, according to the paper, which also names two other species for the first time.

Armbruster has described more than 40 other species of fish during his research career; Greedo is the first to bear the name of a fictional character.

"In biology, taxonomy is probably the most important science," Armbruster said in a statement. "We have not even completed cataloging all of the species found locally, and in places like South America, it sometimes feels like we have barely started."


"Going somewhere, Solo?" Peckoltia greedoi. (Jonathan Armbruster/Auburn University)

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