OH YES THEY DID: Scientists Name A Parasitic Worm After President ObamaPosted: September 8, 2016
Nobel Peace Prize, Move Over: Meet baracktrema obamai, the two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm. it’s a type of blood fluke that infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia.
President Obama, Commander in Chief and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, can add another honor to his resume: namesake of a new species.
Granted, the species is a parasitic flatworm. But in the scientific community, the act is considered *coughcough* an honor all the same.
“I have named a number of species after people I admire,” Thomas Platt, the parasitologist who discovered and collected the new species, said, with a straight face.
[Baracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.]
The move is meant to be a permanent tribute, he said. “Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.”
Platt and three other American researchers proposed Baracktrema obamai as both a new genus and species in The Journal of Parasitology. The two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm — a type of blood fluke — infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia. The team used genetic testing and morphological analysis of the worm’s body and genitalia to determine the new species. Their proposal marks the first new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 years.
The find was the last that Platt — a turtle parasite expert — named before retiring from Saint Mary’s College. Platt named 32 species during his tenure and was inspired to name Baracktrema obamaiafter discovering that he and the president share a common ancestor, he said.
Platt and his colleagues hope the discovery will help broaden scientific understanding of parasitic blood flukes, especially those that cause the debilitating schistosomiasis disease in humans. Schistosomiasis is contracted when blood fluke larva in contaminated water penetrate the skin. Adults, and the eggs they produce, can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, anaemia, stunting and other problems in human hosts…(read more)
Source: PBS NewsHour
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