Catfish named after ‘Star Wars’ character it resembles

Posted at 8:53 AM, Mar 18, 2015

AUBURN, Ala. — A previously unknown species of catfish has been named for the wide-eyed, puckered-mouth “Star Wars” character it resembles.

Its scientific name is Peckoltia greedoi, and it is known for its large, dark eyes, puckered lips and protruding bristles.

But you can call him Greedo, in honor of the bounty hunter from “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” You might remember him from the cantina scene on Mos Eisley, where he was killed by Han Solo while attempting to collect on a debt for Jabba the Hutt.

“I think it was the whole package that evoked Greedo, but particularly the eyes and the underslung mouth,” said Jonathan Armbruster, biological sciences professor and curator of fishes for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History.

Armbruster made the connection in September with colleagues David Werneke, Milton Tan and Chris Hamilton. But, like many things in academia, it took a while to make it official.

The specimens were initially found in 1998 by researchers along the Gurupi River in Brazil. Armbruster obtained them in 2005 from a museum in Porto Alegre for a manuscript he was preparing on the genus, “thinking they were unusual.”

He designated them as another existing species, Peckoltia vittata, in a 2008 paper, “although I had not been comfortable with that designation.”

He examined them again in September and discovered they were different from Peckoltia vittata. After talking it over with his colleagues they realized he was a clear ringer for Greedo.

“As a 7-year-old kid, I watched “Star Wars” in the theater 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.”

Greedo became the object of controversy when Lucasfilm re-released the original Star Wars trilogy in 1997. A reworked scene showed Greedo firing a shot at Han Solo before Solo fires back. In the original 1977 release, Han is the only one to fire, prompting backlash from fans and giving rise to the phrase “Han Shot First.”