Caribbean fish infested with gnathlids.
By Elizabeth Brill
If Stephen Colbert is lucky enough to have a beetle named after him, why shouldn't scientists honor Bob Marley with his own biological species?
This week it was announced that Paul Sikkel, an assistant professor of marine ecology and a field marine biologist at Arkansas State University, has discovered and named a "gnathiid isopod" after the reggae legend.
Unlike Marley, though, the creature isn't exactly a peaceful dude; it's described as "a small parasitic crustacean blood feeder that infests certain fish that inhabit the coral reefs of the shallow eastern Caribbean." The official name of the species is Gnathia marleyi.
Sikkel explains the moniker:
I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley's music. Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean as was Marley.
Sikkel adds that "gnathiids, in general, are the most common external parasites found on coral reefs and are ecologically similar to land-based blood-sucking ticks or disease-carrying mosquitoes." Yikes.
According to the National Science Foundation, specimens of Gnathia marleyi will be housed indefinitely at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.