Other presidents have mountains named after them. They’re the namesakes for high schools, boulevards, space centers, libraries, airports, and elk. George Washington has the capital of our country named for him, for crying out loud.
But how many of them have the dubious honor of being the namesake for a parasitic worm?
World, meet Baracktrema obamai, a deadly turtle pathogen named in honor of our current president. Believe it or not, it’s supposed to be a compliment.
The new genus and species of parasitic flatworm was introduced this week in an article in the Journal of Parasitology. The tiny creatures, which are the thickness of a human hair, invade the lungs of freshwater turtles in Malaysia, often with deadly consequences.
Thomas Platt, a turtle disease expert who discovered the new species shortly before his recent retirement from St. Mary’s College, said that the name is meant to honor President Obama — not gross him out. Though most people (understandably) aren’t big parasite fans, Platt has a deep respect for the resilient little creatures.
They “face incredible obstacles to complete their [life cycles] and must contend with the immune system of the host in order to mature and reproduce,” he said in a statement.
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