Singer Enya inspires new fish species name chosen by Oregon State scientists

Leporinus enyae, courtesy Oregon State University.

There’s a new fish species in the books, and its name has a musical origin.

Oregon State University scientists discovered a new fish species in South America, and based on where the fish was found, researchers couldn’t get a certain song out of their heads.

Nearly three decades ago, Irish singer and songwriter Enya released a lead single called "Orinoco Flow" from her second studio album. The song went on to become an international hit and launched Enya into stardom.

Inspired by the song, OSU researchers named the new fish species from the Orinoco River drainage Leporinus enyae.

The name and findings were published this week in the journal Neotropical Ichthyology by a team from OSU and Brazil.

"Whenever we were in the lab at Oregon State working on the fishes, Ben Frable would always play 'Orinoco Flow," said Michael Burns, an OSU doctoral candidate and lead author on the paper describing the new species, referring to another graduate student in the OSU lab.

"I heard the song so often in the lab it got stuck in my head," research co-author Marcus Chatfield said. "Then I just started listening to it on purpose when I was taking measurements of the specimens. When the time came around for choosing names, it just felt right to name this new beautiful fish from the Orinoco after the artist who wrote that beautiful song."

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