Life mimics art as Schwarzenegger’s species takes all the purity and strength while DeVito’s gets the dregs. DNA anaylsis reveals two twin plants are more closely related to other species than to each other.An unlikely pair of plants discovered in Australia have been named after actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
The duo played an improbable set of twins in the 1988 comedy “Twins.” Characters Julius Benedict and Vincent Benedict were the unexpected result of a scientific experiment that aimed to create a single perfect child. Instead the embryo split and created a set of fraternal twins opposite in almost every way.
Much like the movie duo, Australia National University biologists discovered two sub-species of a genus of Australian pea flowers were twin species but opposite in many ways.
“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,” lead researcher Emeritus Professor Mike Crisp said.
His team named the two species “Daviesia schwarzenegger” and “Daviesia devito” after new DNA analysis revealed the two plants were more closely related to other species than to each other.
Crisp said the devito sub-species was smaller and weaker, while the schwarzenegger variant was bigger and more robust.
The team’s paper said the difference between the two actors paralleled the growth habit difference between the two Daviesia species.
Carbon emissions reduction
“We also wish to honor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leadership as Governor of California in pioneering the reduction of carbon emissions, and for advising the Australian Government to do the same,” Crisp said.
The pair were among 131 different sub-species that Crisp’s team identified within the genus Daviesia, which are commonly known as ‘egg and bacon peas’ due to the colors of their flowers.
Both plants were at risk of extinction as their appeared to be confined to tiny patches of bushland in a region of southeastern Australia that was largely cleared for wheat farming.
“These plants are ecologically important members of the communities of plants in which they grow. They’re nitrogen fixers, playing an important role in the Mallee region where the top soil is very denuded and the nutrients are depleted. It’s essential to have nitrogen fixers to replace those nutrients.”
Crisp told the university’s media department that the paper, which was published in Phytotaxa, took 40 years to produce and contributed to the global process of documenting biodiversity.