In quite possibly the ultimate tribute (for Science geeks, that is), the late Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley has had a biological species named in his honor.
The new species, a small parasitic crustacean blood feeder that infests fish in Caribbean coral reefs, is now known as Gnathia marleyi.
“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.
“Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean as Marley.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Gnathia marleyi is a type of gnathiid isopod, a small crustacean that hides in among eastern Carribean coral rubble, sea sponges or algae.
When the right kinds of fish come by, the juveniles jump out and attach themselves to suck their blood, eating enough to fuel their growth to adulthood. But when they grow into adults, they stop 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.
The UK Daily reports that Sikkel initially discovered Gnathia marleyi about 10 years ago in the US Virgin Islands, where it is prevalent – so common that the academic assumed for years that the species had been properly described.
Sikkel and his team describe all of G. marleyi’s life stages in the June 6 issue of the journal Zootaxia.
With his “parasitic tribute,” Bob Marley joins an elite club that includes President Barack Obama, whose name inspired Caloplaca obamae, the moniker for a lichen growing on Santa Rosa island in California, “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson, who had a species of louse named in his honor, and singer Beyoncé, whom a species of horse fly with a golden rear is now named after.