MIAMI: US scientists have discovered a new species of a parasitic flatworm that infects turtles in Malaysia, and named it after Barack Obama as a way of honoring the US president.
The flatworm, coined Baracktrema obamai, is so unusual that it merits not only a new species designation, but its own genus, too.
“This is the first time such an action has been taken for this group of turtle parasites in 21 years,” said the report in the Journal of Parasitology on Sept 8.
The new species was discovered by Thomas Platt, an expert on turtle parasites who recently retired from Saint Mary’s College in the state of Indiana. He said he was inspired to name the creature after Obama, in part because the worms “face incredible obstacles to complete their journey and must contend with the immune system of the host in order to mature and reproduce.”
He was also influenced by doing genealogy research that traced his family and the US president’s family back to a common ancestor.
“I have named a number of species after people I admire, from my father-in-law, my PhD adviser, and good friends who are academics and/or amateur naturalists,” Platt said in a statement.