Just before Oscars, plant named for hero of "The Martian"

AP News
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Posted: Feb 25, 2016 3:45 PM
Just before Oscars, plant named for hero of "The Martian"

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Damon may not win the Oscar for best actor on Sunday, but the character he played in "The Martian" has gotten its own recognition.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal PhytoKeys, scientists named a flowering Australian plant for Mark Watney, the fictional botanist Damon portrayed.

The plant is dubbed solanum watneyi (soh-LAY'-num WAHT-nee-eye). It's related to the potato, which Watney grew on Mars as he puzzled out how to survive being stranded.

The journal article demonstrates that the plant represents a distinct species. One author, Chris Martine of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, said the name reflects the film's demonstration that "through the scientific process there are ... lots of things we can still learn."

Besides, he said, botanists don't have many "blockbuster Hollywood space heroes."