By Harriet Alexander For Dailymail.com
Published: 15:19 BST, 3 August 2020 | Updated: 15:19 BST, 3 August 2020
The editor of science journal eLife has enraged fellow scientists on Twitter by saying that the roundworm was 'overhyped'.
In a debate designed to spark friendly banter, podcast host Ellen Weatherford tweeted on July 18 to her 3,500 followers from @JustTheZooOfUs: 'What is the most overhyped animal?'
Michael Eisen, the editor of eLife and an expert in fruit flies, replied a day later that the roundworm was, in his opinion, overhyped.
'They wiggle forward. They wiggle backwards. And occasionally they f*** themselves. That's it,' he tweeted.
Social media then erupted with outrage at his slight of the roundworms, with the criticism escalating into accusations of racism, sexism and white privilege.
Caenorhabditis elegans worm, colored scanning electron micrograph. Twitter erupted in fury after the editor of eLife journal said he believed the worm was the 'most overhyped' animal
Editor of science journal eLife, Michael Eisen, weighed in on the debate - with explosive results
Many began by questioning his use of an expletive.
Others said it was unfair to researchers in that particular biological field - the roundworm is frequently studied because it provides an easy proxy for understanding biological processes, and was the first multicellular organism to have its entire genome and neural system mapped.