NCBI ROFL: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Jar Jar Binks had a fungal infection.

By ncbi rofl | May 24, 2010 7:00 pm

jarjarIt’s BMJ week (again) on NCBI ROFL! After the success of our first BMJ week, we decided to devote another week to fun articles from holiday issues of the British Medical Journal.  Enjoy!

Tokelau on Naboo

“Tinea imbricata, a superficial fungal infection of man, has an ornate appearance composed of concentric circles and polycyclic or serpiginous scaly plaques. The condition is common in several humid tropical regions, especially in parts of Polynesia and Melanesia. It is also reported occasionally in the Amazon basin and other tropical areas in both hemispheres. The precise distribution of tinea imbricata, however, has been poorly defined ever since the disease was named by Sir Patrick Manson, the father of tropical medicine.

I report the possible presence of tinea imbricata outside its previously known geographic and taxonomic distribution. Several Gungan inhabitants of Naboo, a planet of the Galactic Republic depicted in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, have skin with the distinctive annular and polycyclic pattern of tinea imbricata. Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan who figures prominently in this movie, shows this eruption in figure ​2. Manson wrote of the infection, “Again, tinea imbricata, if it has been in existence any length of time, involves a very large surface, as an entire limb, or side of the trunk, or oftener still, if not checked, nearly the whole surface of the body . . . As advancing rings spread, their regularity is modified by the shape of the parts, the nature of the skin they travel over, and by encountering other systems of rings.”…

…My diagnosis of tinea imbricata is clinical, based on the appearance of the Gungans’ diseased skin. Without scrapings, I was unable to confirm the diagnosis by culture or microscopy. Although we know little about diseases of extraterrestrial creatures (ETs), indirect evidence suggests that Gungan skin is composed of keratin, that they are susceptible to human diseases, and that they have had contact with human populations who have tinea imbricata….

…There is scant information on the transmission of human diseases to ETs. A Medline search for extraterrestrial dermatophytoses (search criteria [exobiology or extraterrestrial environments] and [skin diseases or mycoses]) retrieved no citations. Elsewhere the science literature describes ETs who are susceptible to diseases caused by earthly pathogens. Martians, for example, suffered fatal infections from mundane microbes both on Earth and on Mars. A century ago, a Martian invasion force was brought to a standstill in London, not because of a strike of transportation workers, but because the Martians were “slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared.” Later much of Mars’s population was decimated by the varicella zoster virus, which caused “chicken pox, a child’s disease, a disease that doesn’t even kill children on earth.” If earthly bacteria and viruses can infect ETs, then perhaps so can fungi.”

Read the full article here.


Thanks to Marzena for today’s ROFL!

Image: BMJ/Lucasfilm Ltd.

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  • nobody

    Come on, you are pulling our leg… This can’t be a real paper published in a real journal!!! And if it is, how on Earth did the authors get funding for this crap???

  • JohnV

    “Contributors: SAN paid real money to see Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and to rent it on video, and is guarantor for the paper. Daniel Norton pointed out that Jar Jar’s skin looked like one of the diseases that Dad likes. Benjamin Norton explained to Dad what Gungans were. Dr Leena Mammen provided figure ​figure1.1Figure 1. Lucasfilm Ltd provided figure ​figure2.2Figure 2. Members of the Science Fiction Research Association ( discussion list suggested the name xenanthroponosis.”

    Unless you want to start putting language into research funding telling people what they can and cannot use their pay and free time for, I don’t think this is a funding issue.

  • nobody

    Not a funding issue??? Are you serious man? If it’s not an issue, then perhaps I should get a grant to watch some porn and then write a paper on it.

    People complain about NASA’s funding but have no problem with wasting money on crap like the aforementioned paper… I understand of course the difference in the size of the 2 budgets but come on, give me a break!!!

  • ncbi rofl
  • JohnV


    SIGH. If you read the article, or the except I posted, it should be fairly clear that the author went to the theatre to watch the movie and then bought the DVD with his money. Are you suggesting that as he’s a federal employee doing research with federal money how he spends his personal money and free time should be regulated?

  • Brian Too

    @3. nobody,

    Yes, it’s a major funding scandal, on the order of the East Anglia climate change outrage!

    I suggest you write angry letters to the President about it (any President, just pick one, what am I, a phone book?!). Make sure you write it out of single, large letters clipped from newspapers and magazines. The Black Helicopters and MIB are everywhere you know!


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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