Joker Joaquin Phoenix
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Credit: Warner Bros.

Put on a happy face: Spider with Joker-esque patterning named for Joaquin Phoenix

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Jun 29, 2020

What do you get when cross a longtime vegan and animal rights activist with a supervillain movie featuring a very distinctive facial pattern? You get what you deserve...a spider named in your honor. It's not much of a punchline, but then again, that fits right into Joker's whole deal and Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of Batman's worst nightmare. Now the actor has an animal named after him, thanks to his performance as the Clown Prince of Crime, and it — like his character — has put on a happy face.

The Loureedia phoenixi, an Iranian velvet spider recently discovered by scientists including the University of Turku's Alireza Zamani, is part of a genus that already has pop culture origins: "Loureedia" comes from musician Lou Reed. Traditionally, scientists love naming stuff after their favorite bits of culture. But the Loureedia phoenixi is special among its relatives for the splash of red across its white patterning — bringing to mind the painted smile of the Joker...at least to the researchers able to observe the 8mm arachnid close up.

Take a look:

Source: Zamani, Alireza & Marusik, Yuri. (2020). A new and easternmost species of Loureedia (Aranei: Eresidae) from Iran. Arthropoda Selecta. 29. 239–243. 10.15298/arthsel.29.2.09. 

"The new species is named after the American actor, producer and animal rights activist Joaquin Phoenix in recognition of his praised portrayal of the title character in the 2019 movie Joker," the report's etymology section reads, "and as a reference to the male abdominal pattern of the new species, which resembles the famous facial makeup of this character."

Sorry, Spider-Man characters, but you've got competition: real-life spiders are being snapped up by Batman villains. That's an irony the Joker would love.

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