New species named in honour of NWU academic
According to Sir David Attenborough, who has at least 17 species named in his honour, having a species named after you is the “biggest of compliments that you could ask from any scientific community”.
Internationally acclaimed North-West University (NWU) researcher, Prof Nico Smit, was recently complimented in such a way.
Researchers from the Queensland Museum in Australia and the Prince of Songkhla University in Thailand named a new species of cirolanid isopod in his honour.
Prof Smit is from the Water Research Group in the NWU’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.
The new species, Metacirolana nicosmiti, was discovered living on the coral reefs in Fiji and has very unique diamond-shaped ornamentations on its head.
In their species description published in the December 2021 issue of Marine Biology Research, Drs Bruce and Rodcharoen state that the name of the new species honours Prof Smit, for his contribution to the knowledge of the Isopoda, primarily fish parasites, of southern Africa. It also recognises his influence as a colleague and mentor to numerous young scientists.
To date, Prof Smit and his students have already described more than 36 new species of isopods from across the globe, including Hawaii, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia and India.
This recognition puts Prof Smit alongside another person who excelled in what he did, namely the late lead vocalist of the rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury. He also has a cirolanid isopod named in his honor, the species Cirolana mercury.