Amy Tan Has a Leech Named in Her Honor

Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York decided to name a species of leech after author Amy Tan, who mentions jungle leeches many times in her hilarious novel Saving Fish from Drowning. Curator of invertebrate zoology at the museum, Mark Siddall, said that “Tan is a long supporter of the work we do here [and] someone we knew would consider it an honor, not an insult, to have a leech named for her.”

The small Australian leech has been named Chtonobdella tanae and is the first microscopic soft-bodied critter to be described with CT scanning. The work was recently published in Zoologica Scripta, and opens for studying soft-bodied animals, from worms to jelly fish, in a non-invasive way.

Tan said she was thrilled to be immortalized through the leech, and excited about the new possibilities for identifying “legions of tiny organisms that have thus far lived in obscurity.” She added: “ I am now planning my trip to Queensland, Australia, where I hope to take leisurely walks through the jungle, accompanied by a dozen or so of my namesake feeding on my ankles.”

Both Tan and The American Museum of Natural History celebrated the occasion on Twitter.

This is not the first time a species or discovery has been named after an author. There’s the Bagheera kiplingi, a spider named after Rudyard Kipling’s character Bagheera from The Jungle Book, Nabokovia, a butterfly named after the well documented butterfly enthusiast Vladimir Nabokov, Livyatan melvillei, an extinct whale species named after Herman Melville, and even 25924 DouglasAdams, an asteroid named after the author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, to name a few.

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