The species was first described by biologist Dale H. Clayton in 1989. It was named after Gary Larson, creator of the syndicated cartoon The Far Side. In a letter to Larson, Clayton praised the cartoonist for "the enormous contribution that my colleagues and I feel you have made to biology through your cartoons." In his book The Prehistory of the Far Side, Larson stated, "I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along."
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