Tarantula worm named after actor Jeff Daniels

(ORDO NEWS) — The worm Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi was the second known species of nematode to infect tarantulas. Scientists named it after Jeff Daniels, who starred in the movie Arachnophobia. However, this is far from the first time that a new species has been named after an actor.

Scientists from the University of California Riverside have discovered a worm from a type of nematode that parasitizes tarantulas.

The new species, described in the Journal of Parasitology, was named Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi – in honor of the American actor, musician and producer Jeff Daniels, who starred in the film Arachnophobia, where his hero saved the city from the invasion of spiders.

Nematodes, also known as roundworms, are one of the most common parasites on the planet. To date, more than 25 thousand species of nematodes have been described that infect almost any animal. However, T. jeffdanielsi became only the second member of the phylum known to science to parasitize tarantulas.

The species was discovered when a spider breeder approached study author Adler Dillman to identify a mysterious disease affecting his tarantulas. Examining the white mass that stood out around the mouth of sick spiders, the scientist diagnosed an infection with roundworms.

In spiders, the pedipalps, the second pair of limbs that perform a tactile function and support the oral appendages, stopped moving. In addition, tarantulas refused food.

Further research has shown that T. jeffdanielsi are hermaphrodites. In a lifetime, each worm is capable of producing about 160 offspring. Under laboratory conditions, the lifespan of nematodes was 11 days, but it is not yet clear how long they can exist in the spider’s body.

A surprising feature of the species was that T. jeffdanielsi lived only near the mouth of the tarantula, not inhabiting the stomach. This led scientists to the idea that nematodes can feed on bacteria living in the mouth of spiders.

The hypothesis was confirmed by the fact that worms grown in the laboratory willingly ate E. coli. Scientists have to learn how nematodes change the behavior of tarantulas and paralyze their pedipalps. This information will help breeders treat spiders and prevent future infections.

T. jeffdanielsi was far from the first living creature to be named after an actor. For example, in Malaysia, the water beetle Grouvellinus leonardodicaprio lives – this is how scientists expressed their gratitude to Leonardo DiCaprio for his eco-activism.

For merits in the affairs of nature conservation, the name of Harrison Ford was immediately received by two types of arthropods: the spider Calponia harrisonfordi and the ant Pheidole harrisonfordi.

And naming the spider Aptostichus angelinajolieae , the American entomologist thanked Angelina Jolie for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

A new species of ground beetle, which was on the verge of extinction due to deforestation in Costa Rica, was named after Kate Winslet – Agra katewinsletae : thus scientists decided to draw attention to the problem.

So did the entomologists who gave the name Lady Gaga to the humpback fly Kaikaia gaga . This species turned out to be the only representative of the new genus, which required attention from the scientific community.

However, scientists are not always guided by such goals when choosing the name of a new species. So, the parasitic wasp Conobregma bradpitti got the name of Brad Pitt for the reason that he simply turned out to be the favorite actor of the pioneers.

Arachnologists, who named the spider Corambis jacknicholsoni in honor of Jack Nicholson, consider him the greatest actor of our time, but the appearance of the tree beetle Agra schwarzeneggeri with its structure reminded scientists of the figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Not only arthropods are named after actors: for example, a new species of sauropod dinosaur discovered near the filming location of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is named Europatitan eastwoodi , after Clint Eastwood, who played one of the main roles in this film.

The names of the new species are not limited to the names of the actors. Naked Science has already written about flies named after Marvel heroes, and characters from Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings are also popular.


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