Naming it BARACKTREMA OBAMAI was not intended as an insult, said its discoverer. He meant it as a tribute to the president. This happens in the same week in which Philippines President Dutarte called Obama a "son of a whore".
- Biology professor Thomas Plat discovered and named the flatworm.
- Baracktrema Obamai, a tiny parasitic flatworm, lives in turtles blood.
- 'It's long. It's thin. And it's cool as hell,' Platt said of the new-found parasite. It's also deadly.
- The new species is believed to be the ancestor of the flatworms, commonly called blood flukes, that cause the deadly disease schistosomiasis.
- Platt retired as professor at St. Mary's College in Indiana right after naming the worm, ending his career on a high note.
- Naming his latest discovery after Obama was a 'small way' of honoring him, he said with a straight face.
- Some people pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of having a species named after them, Platt added.
A new species of parasitic flatworm infecting turtles in Malaysia was named after outgoing US President Barack Obama. The scientist who discovered the worm says he has already named a number of species after people he “admires.”
The two-inch-long, hair-thin creature has a “post-cecal terminal genitalia” and lives in the blood of two different types of turtles.
“The new genus further differs from all other accepted turtle blood fluke genera by having a cecum that is highly convoluted for its entire length, a spindle-shaped ovary between the cirrus sac and testis, a uterine pouch that loops around the primary vitelline collecting duct, a Laurer’s canal, and a dorsal common genital pore,” Platt and his team of researchers wrote.
Baracktrema obamai was discovered in two species of freshwater turtles, the black marsh turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis) and the southeast Asian box turtle (Cuora amboinensis).
Parasites live in and get nutrients from host animals. Baracktrema obamai 'are phenomenally incredibly resilient organisms' according to Platt.
'I hold them in awe and with phenomenal respect,' Platt said.
The worm is related, distantly, to a parasite that can cause a devastating disease in humans, but it causes no harm to turtles.
The worm is so unusual that the research team proposed giving it not only its own species, but also a new genus, which is the first time it has been proposed for this group of turtle parasites in 21 years.
The new species is believed to be the ancestor of the flatworms, commonly called blood flukes, that cause the deadly disease schistosomiasis.
Scientists discovered clusters of the parasite eggs in small vessels of turtle lungs, although how exactly they get outside to hatch is yet to be discovered.
The newly-discovered species was found by Thomas R. Platt, who spent decades studying turtle viruses before retiring recently from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
He said he was inspired to name the worm after President Obama when he discovered that he and the US head of state were distant relatives.
“I have named a number of species after people I admire, from my father-in-law, my Ph.D. adviser, and good friends who are academics and/or amateur naturalists,” Platt said. “Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.”
A paper describing the new discovery was published in the Journal of Parasitology.
President Obama has seven other species named after him, including another parasite, a trapdoor spider, an extinct insect-eating lizard and a fish.
Philippines President Duterte calls Barack Obama "son of a whore"
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called Barack Obama a "son of a whore" on Monday as he vowed not to be lectured by the US leader on human rights when they meet in Laos.
The acid-tongued Duterte bristled at warnings he would face questioning by the US president over a war against drugs in the Philippines that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in just over two months.
"You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum," Duterte told a news conference shortly before flying to Laos to attend a summit.
We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me."
Duterte was due to hold a bilateral meeting with Obama on Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of a gathering of global leaders hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vientiane, the Lao capital.
But shortly after Duterte spoke, Obama appeared to cast doubt on whether such a meeting could take place.
Calling Duterte "a colourful guy", the US president said was asking his staff to find out whether a meeting would be useful.
"I always want to make sure if I'm having a meeting that it's actually productive and we're getting something done," he told reporters.
Duterte, 71, was elected in May after a promise to wage an unprecedented war on illegal drugs that would see tens of thousands of suspects killed.
Official figures released Sunday show that, since he took office on June 30, over 2,400 people have been killed in police anti-drug operations and by suspected vigilantes.
Speaking on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Obama said Washington recognised that drugs were a significant problem for the Philippines. But he insisted that he would not shy away from raising concerns about the way the issue was being handled under the new administration.
"The issue of how we approach fighting crime and drug trafficking is a serious one for all of us. We've got to do it the right way," he said.
"Undoubtedly, if and when we have a meeting, this is something that's going to be brought up. And my expectation, my hope is that it could be dealt with constructively."
Duterte has angrily rejected criticism from the Catholic Church, human rights groups, legislators and the United Nations.
And he vowed Monday the bloodbath would continue as he pursued his goal of eradicating illegal narcotics in the Philippines.
"More people will be killed, plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets. Until the (last) drug manufacturer is killed, we will continue and I will continue," he said.
Duterte insisted he would not take orders from the United States, a former colonial ruler of the Philippines, and did not care about how he was perceived.