DEEP PURPLE's Ian Paice and MESHUGGAH's Tomas Haake are the latest hard rock and heavy metal musicians to get ancient fossils named after them. Ophiopetagno Paicei and Muldaster Haakei are two fossils of extinct brittle stars retrieved from 428-million-year-old rocks from the Swedish island of Gotland.
"Analyzing fossils the size of a dust grain and delving deeply into complex evolutionary patterns can be mind-wrecking," explains Dr. Ben Thuy from the Natural History Museum Luxembourg, lead author of the study. "The music of DEEP PURPLE and MESHUGGAH really helped us blow off steam, renew inspiration and calm our minds."
As for why the drummers were specifically chosen to be honored, Prof. Mats E. Eriksson of Lund University, co-author of the study, said: "Ian Paice of DEEP PURPLE and MESHUGGAH's Tomas Haake are two of the most prolific and influential drummers of all time." Furthermore, Dr. Thuy is a metal drummer himself. "During the time our study was compiled, I recorded the drums for the upcoming album of Luxembourg-based metal band SLEEPERS' GUILT, so it was an obvious choice to honor two of my idols," he explained.
The palaeontologists also chose to honor metal artwork legend Joe Petagno.
"Joe has a history of including zoological objects in his paintings and has provided artwork for some of my previous fossil discoveries," explained Prof. Eriksson. "Naming a fossil in his honor was long overdue."
Petagno stated about his fossil: "In my wildest fantasies (and I have a lot of them) I never thought I would have a fossil named after me, and a stunning brittle star over 400 million years old. Far out — way out there. I am truly honored."
Last October, a newly discovered fossil was named after BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi. Drepanoistodus Iommii, an eel-like creature that slithered across the seas some 469 million years ago, was found near a Russian river.
Previous fossils have been named after iconic MOTÖRHEAD frontman Lemmy Kilmister and Danish heavy metal legend King Diamond.
"This allows me to combine my life-long love affairs with nature/science and music/art!" Prof. Eriksson wrote. "It doesn't get more beautiful than that in my humble opinion."