If you ever want to go fishing in Brazil, there is a slight change that you might catch a fish resembling a certain Star Wars character. Meet Peckoltia greedoi, a suckermouth armored catfish that was recently named after Greedo the bounty hunter from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Jonathan Armbuster, the biological sciences professor at Auburn University who named the fish, said he first noticed the resemblance when fellow researcher Chris Hamilton pointed it out.
“Chris looked at the specimen and said ‘that looks like that guy from Star Wars,'” said Armbruster in a press release. “After a little prodding, I realized he was talking about Greedo. We then knew what the name had to be. The Peckoltia greedoi does bear a striking resemblance to Greedo.”
It did not take much encouraging for Armbruster, an avid fan of the franchise, to name the fish after the fictional bounty hunter.
“As a 7-year-old kid, I watched Star Wars in the theatre and it was a life-changing experience for me,” said Armbruster. “I became a lifelong fan, and I now share that with my son. Greedo has always been a personal favorite of mine.”
The amphibian-like Greedo only appears in a scene where he confronts Han Solo in a spaceport, threatening Solo at gunpoint over a debt that he owed to the crime lord Jabba the Hutt. Greedo is dispatched almost immediately when Solo shoots him from underneath a table with a hidden blaster. The scene later became a controversial one when re-released versions of the film edited the encounter to show Greedo firing first, whereas in the original version the bounty hunter did not have time to shoot at all. Fans of the series say that the scene was an establishing moment for Solo, who was portrayed as an amoral, if ultimately heroic smuggler-turned-revolutionary.
“That guy who got shot by Han Solo,” Armbruster recalled, encapsulating Greedo’s sole purpose in the film.
Armbruster first recieved his specimens of Peckoltia greedoi in 2005 as he was doing additional research on the species. The catfish were believed to be first spotted in 1998, when several specimens were retrieved from the Gurupi River in Brazil. Roughly 17 years later, they finally got a name.
As taxonomist, Armbruster is often granted the rare honor of naming new species. The professors said that in the past he had described more than 40 fish species, including some named after his friends and colleagues. This is the first time that he had named a fish after a fictional character.
“In biology, taxonomy is probably the most important science,” said Armbruster. “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. We need names to be able to discuss anything about the biology of the organisms, and it is the one branch of biology used by every biologist alive.”
You can see pictures of the fish below: