• The scientists spent years studying Australian Araneidae
  • The new genus comprises one species, the Abba transversa
  • This is not the first time that a genus or species is named after a musician

Two scientists have described a new spider genus and named it after none other than the iconic Swedish band, ABBA.

Scientists Dr. Pedro Castanheira and Dr. Volker Framenau of Murdoch University identified the new genus after conducting a comprehensive review of orb-weaving spiders in Australian collections, Pensoft Publishers noted in a blog.

The Araneidae family of spiders so far contains 188 genera (plural for genus) and 3,110 species all over the world. But in Australia, the spider family appears to be a bit confusing.

"There are currently 230 described species and eight subspecies in 46 genera of araneid orb-weaving spiders known from Australia. The genus Araneus is the most speciose of these and includes almost double the number of species as each of the second-largest genera, Argiope," the researchers wrote in their paper published in Evolutionary Systematics.

"However, Araneus (or its junior synonym Epeira) was used by early arachnologists as a dumping ground for species that could not be placed in other genera, and a detailed examination of all available Australian type material of araneids over the last 15 years showed that true Araneus species do not occur in Australia," they continued.

The pair's work was, indeed, comprehensive as it was part of a 15-year study on Australian Araneidae, scouring a total of nearly 12,000 records. The new genus, simply named Abba, so far comprises only one species, the Abba transversa, which can be identified from other species by the dark spots on its abdomen.

A photo of the species can be seen below.

As mentioned, the scientists named the genus after the band Abba. This, they say, is to honor the entertainment provided by the group.

"The genus-group name honours the Swedish pop group ABBA whose songs and subsequent musicals Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mamma Mia – Here We Go again! (2018), provided hours of entertainment for the authors," they wrote. "The gender of the genus-group name is feminine."

Having a genus or even a species after celebrities, particularly musicians, isn't new. In 2022, for instance, an arachnologist named a spider genus after David Bowie, calling the late musician an "incomparable artist." In the same year, a team of scientists named one of the 17 new millipede species they described after singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

While naming discoveries after admired celebrities offer a way to honor them for their contributions, or even the entertainment that they provided during hours of the scientists' grueling work, doing so is also one of the ways to get species the attention that perhaps they need.

In the case of the Abba transversa, not much is still known about the species, particularly about its behavior. Giving its genus a rather striking name may not only help give it the attention that it and its genus need but, as with many other species, may also shed light on the importance the conservation.

"Describing new taxa is vital for conservation management plans to assess biodiversity and protect forests areas across Australia," Castanheira was quoted as saying by Pensoft Publishers. "Currently, 80% of Australian spider species are unknown, and many of the described ones are misplaced in different genera, like Abba transversa used to be."

ABBA has not released any new music since their split in 1982
ABBA has not released any new music since their split in 1982 TT News Agency / Olle LINDEBORG