A newly discovered eel-like creature that crossed the seas around 469 million years ago has been named after the high priest of heavy metal – Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.
Drepanoistodus Iommii, as the scientists named it, was found near a Russian river by a team of Scandinavian scientists who are also fans of metal.
“It’s my way of honoring one of the world’s greatest guitarists in one of the greatest bands of all time,” said Mats Eriksson, professor of paleontology at Lund University in Sweden, in an email to NBC News. “He is already immortalized in music history books and now also in science with this fossil bearing his name.”
When asked if he had heard from Iommi, Eriksson replied, “Yes, I heard from his manager who seemed happy.”
The find dates back to the Ordovician period, an era of 41.6 million years in which the oceans were dominated by the ancestors of today’s sea urchins and starfish, and a variety of species known as the name of Conodonts, like the one named after Iommi, has proliferated.
Conodonts had thorns and a “tooth-like apparatus” through which they fed but lacked jaws, scientists said. Finally, they disappeared.
Iommi, whose menacing guitar riffs propelled the apocalyptic sound of Sabbath into metal hits like “Paranoid”, “Children of the Grave” and “Iron Man”, is still relevant today. He’s a 73-year-old cancer survivor who is getting ready to play on the upcoming solo album by his partner and Black Sabbath singer, Ozzy Osbourne.
The well-preserved fossil was found in limestone rock formations that were part of the seabed during the Ordovician period and may yield more finds, Eriksson said.
“The rocks we sampled on a steep cliff of a Russian river may not look like much to the naked eye, but they have turned out to be a treasure for us fossil enthusiasts,” said Eriksson’s colleague Anders Lindskog at rock music site Blabbermouth.
Iommi is not the first rock god whose name adorns the fossils unearthed by Eriksson and his Swedish and Danish colleagues. Previous finds were named after Lemmy Kilmister, the legendary Motorhead frontman, and King Diamond, a Danish rock crier.
“It allows me to combine my lifelong loves with nature / science and music / art! Eriksson wrote. “It doesn’t get any nicer than that in my humble opinion.”
Eriksson also left open the possibility that future fossil finds could be named after fellow Black Sabbath founders Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward.
“I have tremendous admiration for all of them,” he wrote.