Paleontologists love their rock, whether it comes in fossil form and just cranking up some heavy music. That perhaps explains why so many newly discovered fossils have been named after rock musicians. The latest to be saluted in such a matter include Deep Purple's Ian Paice, Meshuggah's Tomas Haake and Deep Purple artwork creator Joe Petagno.

As revealed in a new Communications Biology article, the three new fossils all have ties to the rock community. Ophiopetagno Paicei was collaboratively named after the Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and artwork creator Joe Petagno, while Muldaster Haakei carries a reference to Meshuggah's Tomas Haake. The two fossils are extinct brittle stars that were retrieved from 428-million-year-old rocks on the Swedish island of Gotland.

"Analyzing fossils the size of a dust grain and delving deeply into complex evolutionary patterns can be mind-wrecking," explains Dr. Ben Thuy from the Natural History Museum Luxembourg, lead author of the study who also is a drummer in his spare time. "The music of Deep Purple and Meshuggah really helped us blow off steam, renew inspiration and calm our minds," stated Thuy, adding, "During the time our study was compiled, I recorded the drums for the upcoming album of Luxembourg-based metal band Sleepers' Guilt, so it was an obvious choice to honor two of my idols," he explained.

Also commenting on the newly named fossils, co-author Prof. Mats E. Eriksson of Lund University added, "Ian Paice of Deep Purple and Meshuggah's Tomas Haake are two of the most prolific and influential drummers of all time."

He added of Petagno, "Joe has a history of including zoological objects in his paintings and has provided artwork for some of my previous fossil discoveries. Naming a fossil in his honor was long overdue."

Upon hearing of the honor, Petagno offered, "In my wildest fantasies (and I have a lot of them) I never thought I would have a fossil named after me, and a stunning brittle star over 400 million years old. Far out — way out there. I am truly honored."

Get a closer look at both fossils at this location.

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