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Blood-Eating Parasite Named for Late Reggae Artist Bob Marley

The crustacean Gnathia marleyi, named after singer Bob Marley. (John Artim, Department of Biology, Arkansas State University)

Bob Marley, one of the most prominent flag-bearers of reggae music, has achieved in death a certain air of immortality—a legacy recently extended by marine biologist Paul Sikkel’s decision to name a new species of Carribean crustacean after the late songwriter. Reuters reports,

“I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley’s music,” Paul Sikkel, a marine biologist at Arkansas State University, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The list of species named after celebrities is long, and includes a frog for Prince Charles, a dinosaur for Elvis, and, apparently, beetles for all.

This Antarctic dinosaur, Cryolophosaurus, was formerly known as Elvisaurus.
This Antarctic dinosaur, Cryolophosaurus, was formerly known as Elvisaurus. (Colin Schultz)

But while the natural world is beautiful and inspiring, it is also often a dangerous, dirty, and sometimes vile place. This makes naming a newly found animal species after your favorite celebrity a bit of a crapshoot. On the one hand, singer Beyoncé Knowles gets a bee with a golden behind named in her honor. But on the other, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld each gave their name to a species of slime-mold beetle. President Obama has his own lichen.

Marley’s crustacean seem to straddle the line between beautiful and gross. On the upside, the crustacean hails from Marley’s Carribean homeland, inhabiting the country’s gorgeous coral reefs. But, according to Reuters,

Gnathiids, like the species named for Marley, are the most common external parasites found on coral reefs. They are ecologically similar to land-based, blood-sucking ticks or disease-carrying mosquitoes, the biologist said.

Not exactly the most pleasant tribute, even if the name is not yet officially set in stone.

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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