ENVIRONMENT
04/28/2017 08:52 am ET Updated Apr 28, 2017

Why Scientists Named These Plants After Arnold Schwarzenegger And Danny DeVito

The two endangered Australian subspecies are related but look quite different.

When a research team in Australia made a fascinating discovery about a pair of plants, they immediately thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito  ― and their 1988 movie “Twins.” 

That’s because the scientists found out that two “twin” plants they had studied for years, known as egg and bacon pea flowers, are even more different than they previously believed.

Schwarzenegger and DeVito’s roles in the ‘80s comedy ― about an experiment to create the perfect embryo that goes awry and results in two very different people  ― inspired scientists to rebrand the two plants “Daviesia schwarzenegger” and “Daviesia devito.” They’re two of 131 sub-species within the Daviesia genus.

“We discover early on in the movie that the embryo split in two, but it didn’t split equally. All the purity and strength went into Schwarzenegger’s character, Julius, while the dregs went into Vincent, DeVito’s character,” Australian National University researcher Professor Mike Crisp told Deutsche Welle.

The two Daviesia plants are also quite different, according to the researchers’ paper in the journal Phytotaxa. One is big, robust and more upright; the other is little, Crisp explains in a video. And recent DNA analysis revealed that they’re actually more closely related to other species than they are to each other.

Crisp also said scientists wanted to honor Schwarzenegger for his work as governor of California in “pioneering the reduction of carbon emissions and for advising the Australian government to do the same.”

Sadly, both plants are at risk of extinction because they grow in an area increasingly cleared for wheat farming in Australia’s Mallee region. But they’re also extremely important to the local ecology because they fix plant-nurturing nitrogen into the soil.

As for their names, there could be a bit of a problem. The twins played by Schwarzenegger and DeVito turn out not to be twins after all. They’re actually triplets, according to a sequel planned for this year. Their third brother will be played by Eddie Murphy.

CONVERSATIONS