A clam species recently discovered in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines has been named after Dr. Saggie Cohen, Haaretz’s restaurant critic and soccer commentator on the Sports Channel.
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The team of scientists who discovered the species named it Tucetona Saggiecoheni, acknowledging Cohen’s assistance.
One species of the Tucetona, a genus of saltwater clams, is extremely common in the Mediterranean Sea. Explorers in the Philippines recently found a species they couldn’t identify and asked for Cohen’s help. Cohen couldn’t identify it either and the scientists declared it a new species.
Cohen’s connection to the clam world began when he decided to expand his interest fields as a science historian.
He explored how 19th century scientists defined new species and looked into the identification of shellfish, including clams. Cohen was especially interested in the Glycymerididae family.
Over the years he established contact with explorers in the Philippines and cooperated with them in classifying clam species.
“The marine fauna near the Philippines has been thoroughly investigated,” Cohen said yesterday. “So one of the interesting questions about discovering the new species is how come it hadn’t been traced so far. Perhaps the scientists simply missed it.
“I have a theory that perhaps following some ecological change, the species expanded its habitat to another ecological niche, and thus it was finally found.”
Many species are named after Israeli scientists.
One of the best known ones is the nomad jellyfish (Rhopilema nomadica Galil). which abounds off Israeli shores. It’s named after Bella Galil of the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute.
Dozens of species are named for the late zoologist and marine biologist Lev Fishelson, who discovered them.