Scientists have discovered a worm that attacks and kills tarantulas and have named it Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi, as a homage to Jeff Daniels’ role in the B-movie horror classic – Arachnophobia. The 1990 monster movie also starred John Goodman and is about a South American killer spider that hitches a ride to the US and starts to breed.
The worms, called nematodes, are one of the most abundant animals on Earth and there are 25,000 different species of them. This is only the second time that one has been found that infects tarantulas. “His character in the film is a spider killer, which is exactly what these nematodes are,” said UC Riverside parasitologist Adler Dillman, who led a team that discovered the nematode.
“When I first heard a new species of nematode had been named after me, I thought, ‘Why? Is there a resemblance?’ joked Daniels, in remarks to UCR. “Honestly, I was honored by their homage to me and Arachnophobia. Made me smile. And of course, in Hollywood, you haven’t really made it until you’ve been recognised by those in the field of parasitology.”
The comedy-horror film directed by Frank Marshall was a homage to the cheesy fun B-movies of yesteryear. It starts with an aggressive new species of spider, of prehistoric origin being discovered in Venezuela. It climbs into the coffin of its victim and is transported to a small town in California, where it mates with a local house spider.
Daniels plays a doctor who reluctantly must try to stop the deadly spiders breeding and spreading further. He is successful and saves his small town, leading to the tribute of having a spider-killing worm named after him.
If you’re a fan of Arachnophobia, you’ll probably enjoy our guide to the best monster movies.