Top Story: July 9, 2012

Tapeworm Muse

Dave Ebert

Tapeworms. Not the most appetizing of subjects. Imagine having one named for you.

Dave Ebert, research associate at the Academy and director of the Pacific Shark Research Center, recently had that honor. His colleagues have bestowed the name Trilocularia eberti to a new species of cestode (tapeworm), described in a recent article.

T. eberti is a shark parasite, and Ebert is currently working on a description of said shark, discovered in South Africa. That is Ebert’s true occupation, discovering and naming new shark species. Not that life as a tapeworm name muse wouldn’t be fulfilling…

“Since I study sharks I always thought I would have either a cool shark, skate or chimaera named after me, so the fact it was a cestode was quite a surprise,” Dave says. “Of course having a gut parasite named after oneself lends itself to jokes by friends and colleagues. However, it is the first time I have ever had any organism named after me, so I am quite honored.”

And T. eberti is pretty special. It’s only the second member of its genus to be named.  This specialized group of cestodes appears to parasitize members of the shark genus Squalus, commonly known as spiny or spur dogfish, and this newest species resides in the intestinal valve of the shark. Good living!

Ebert isn’t the first Academy researcher to have a species named for him. You might remember our own Bob Drewes’ delight when he had a small phallic mushroom named after himPhallus drewesii.

What new species do you imagine being named after you?

Image: Dave Ebert

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