Infectious Diseases

Why a Newly Discovered Parasite was Named after Bob Marley



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A newly discovered blood-sucking parasite was discovered in the eastern Caribbean Sea and has recently been named after the famed reggae musician, Bob Marley. Scientists made the announcement on July 10.

The previously unknown species belongs to a family of parasites called gnathiids and the parasite's newly christened name is Gnathia marleyi.

Gnathia marleyi was actually discovered approximately 10 years ago. Paul Sikkel, an assistant professor of marine ecology at Arkansas State University, had found it in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and being the bloodsuckers were abundant in the region, assumed it had already been described and classified.

However,  Sikkel sent specimens of the parasite to Nico J. Smit, of North-West University in South Africa, to examine, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Smit and colleagues found the parasite was a previously undiscovered one and did not have a name. The research team also raised the parasite from juvenile to adult.

The parasite lives among the coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea. As a juvenile, it feeds on fish by jumping out of the reefs, then attaches to the fish and sucks its blood. Once the parasite reaches adulthood it stops feeding.

"We believe that adults subsist for two to three weeks on the last feedings they had as juveniles and then die, hopefully after they have reproduced," Sikkel said.

"I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley's music," Sikkel said in a statement, reported Live Science.

"Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean as was Marley," Sikkel had said.

Many reggae fans are reportedly not happy with the parasites newly established association with Marley, noting naming it after the popular musician is disrespectful.

"It's a vampire," said Peter Steele, 45, a musician who often sings Marley songs, reported the Jamaica Observer.

Rastafarian elder Paketo Wilson, 56, a cultural roots musician, told the Jamaica Observer, "They've started to put Bob Marley down," he said. "Bob Marley was not a bloodsucker. He was a man who cared for poor people."

Sikkel and colleagues involved in this study share all the details about G. marleyi, and its life stages, in the June 6 issue of the journal Zootaxa.

The full press release, issued by the National Science Foundation, with full explanation, including additional quotes, from Sikkel can also be found on the NSF website.

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  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-marley-parasite-20120711,0,5467109.story?track=rss
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.livescience.com/21503-caribbean-crustacean-bob-marley.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/BOB-MARLEY-DISSED-_11938598
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?org=NSF&cntn_id=124768