Actor Jeff Daniels has a tarantula-killing worm named after him, is ‘honoured’ by the homage

Jeff Daniels, actor, meet Jeff Daniels, the tarantula-killing worm. That’s right, the actor known for his work on Dumb And Dumber, Speed and HBO series The Newsroom now has a parasitic worm named after him.

The tarantobelus jeffdanielsi was discovered by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, and it’s one of only two nematode (a type of worm) species that is known to infect tarantulas.

Researchers decided to name the worm after Daniels’ character in the 1990 movie, Arachnophobia, where he saved a town from a spider infestation.

The 66-year-old Daniels was good-natured about the homage, saying in a press release by the university that he was “honoured”.

“When I first heard a new special species of nematode had been named after me, I thought, ‘Why? Is there a resemblance?’ Honestly, I was honoured by their homage to me and Arachnophobia. Made me smile.”

Daniels then quipped: “And of course, in Hollywood, you haven’t really made it until you’ve been recognised by those in the field of parasitology.”

According to the press release, tarantulas infected by jeffdanielsi exhibited strange behaviours like walking around on tiptoe and not eating. They also were not able to use their fangs. The infection is lethal although it can take months for the tarantula to die of starvation.

The discovery was led by UC Riverside parasitologist Adler Dillman, who said that Daniels’ character in the film is a spider killer, “which is exactly what these nematodes are”.

Dillman also told CNN that he already knew he wanted to name the nematode after Daniels “because of the obvious connection”.

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