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Scientist Who Named Parasite After Obama: It Was Intended as an 'Honor'

Image: Scientist Who Named Parasite After Obama: It Was Intended as an 'Honor'

President Barack Obama (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 16 Sep 2016 04:03 PM

Thomas Platt, the biology professor who named a parasite Baracktrema obamai after President Barack Obama, explained that he meant it as a compliment.

"I'm the scientist who recently made news for naming a new genus and species of parasite after President Obama," Platt said, writing for The Washington Post. "Before you accuse me of being some kind of hater, racist, or worse — as plenty have — let me be clear: It was absolutely intended as an honor."

The biology professor said he has had two parasites named for him, and "I take great pride in the fact that colleagues thought my contributions to the field warranted this recognition."

People believe the worst about parasites, Platt said. "If I had named a new predator, say a jungle cat or bird of prey, for Obama, there would have been no question of my intentions. But most people have an unjust opinion of the incredible — and yes, beautiful — organisms that I have spent my life investigating."

Platt said that the parasite that is named for Obama is a "blood fluke," that inhabits a circulatory system. The final host for the parasite is a turtle.

Understanding how parasites hide within their hosts could lead to advances in transplant surgery, Platt said.

"I can't share everything we know about parasites in this short space. Suffice to say they are amazing, beautiful, and cool as hell. Anyone should be proud to have one named in his or her honor. I know I am," he said.

The BBC reported that a fish, a lizard, a bird, a spider, a mountain, and a gas station are also named after Obama.

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Thomas Platt, the biology professor who named a parasite Baracktrema obamai after President Barack Obama, explained that he meant it as a compliment.
obama, parasite, scientist, named, honor, baracktrema obamai
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2016-03-16
Friday, 16 Sep 2016 04:03 PM
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