A newly discovered eel-like creature that glided across the seas about 469 million years ago was named after the high priest of heavy metal – Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.
Drepanoistodus Iommii, as scientists called it, was found near a Russian river by a team of Scandinavian scientists who also happen to be metal fans.
“It’s my way of honoring one of the greatest guitarists in the world 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. “With this fossil that bears his name, he is already immortalized in the music history books and now also in science.”
When asked if he had heard from Iommi, Eriksson wrote back: “Yes, I heard from his manager who seemed satisfied.”
The discovery dates back to the Ordovician, a 41.6 million year old era when the oceans were dominated by the ancestors of today’s sea urchins and starfish and a variety of species known as conodonts, such as the one named after Iommi, reproduced .
Conodonts had spines and a “tooth-like apparatus” through which they fed, but had no jaws. according to scientists. Eventually they died out.
Iommi, whose ominous guitar riffs drove Sabbath’s apocalyptic sound into metal hits like “Paranoid”, “Children of the Grave” and “Iron Man”, is still a hit. He is a 73-year-old cancer survivor preparing to play on the next solo album from Black Sabbath bandmate and singer Ozzy Osbourne.
The well-preserved fossil was found in limestone formations that were part of the ocean floor during the Ordovician and could bring further discoveries, Eriksson said.
“The rocks that we sampled on a steep Russian river cliff may not look like much to the naked eye, but they turned out to be a treasure trove for us fossil lovers,” Eriksson’s colleague, Lindskog is differentsaid the rock music site Blabbermouth.
Iommi is not the first rock god whose name adorns fossils discovered by Eriksson and his Swedish and Danish colleagues. Earlier finds have been named after Lemmy Kilmister, the legendary front man of Motörhead, and King Diamond, a Danish rock screamer.
“With it I can combine my lifelong love affairs with nature / science and music / art!” Eriksson wrote. “In my opinion, it couldn’t be nicer.”
Eriksson also left open the possibility that future fossil finds could be named after Black Sabbath’s other founding members, Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward.
“I admire them all very much,” he wrote.