Apr 19, 2010

The Membrane King

I received several links to these articles (1 & 2), and for once I had the good wisdom not to open them during a meal.

If you do not want to see photos of leeches feeding upon human (or canine) membranes, then proceed no further.

The Amazon river has yielded yet another monster. Stare into the face of what has been dubbed the Tyrant Leech King (Tyrannobdella rex, and the name of my next children's book). There are many leeches known the world over that attach themselves to membranes and start sucking away (see last photo). But there's something else going on with this new leech (first photo), and scientists aren't quite sure why.

They've got teeth that are five times larger than most leeches, yet genitalia that are about ten times smaller. Why the disparity? We don't know. But it will inevitably turn out to be something nefarious and nightmare-inducing.


So, next time you swim in the upper Amazon (Peru, in this instance), keep all of your orifices squeezed shut (and I mean all of them, all of them), or you might end up with what one nine-year-old girl described as a 'sliding' sensation where there shouldn't be one.

Thanks for the lovely parasite, Jennifer, Rebeca, Jeff, and Ida. You've got me clamped down tight and itchy.

Photo source: Wired and National Geographic


12 comments:

niner said...

OMG. o.O Please tell me the photo with the "A" in the corner is NOT a leech in someone's eye! Please!

C.B. said...

Ahhhhh! Oh god, it is a leech in an eye. Parasites are the worse. There are soo many things I won't eat & places I won't travel to for fear of some creature laying eggs under my scalp.

Teresa Ennis said...

Oh my goodness, NOOOOO!! I should've had the good wisdom to not look at this during my lunch. Suddenly, my sandwich is not as appealing... :)

Jelo said...

gyah! leech in the eye! leech in the eye!!! how to you yank that off? gyah! painful! gross! painful and gross!!!

stacey said...

*shriek* Thanks, ugly overload, for shocking me into full awakeness.

Anonymous said...

I'm so itchy right now!

Raging Wombat said...

It's a free service I offer, Stacey.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from experience-never ever freak out & flick a leech off you like flinging a giant black booger off your leg. The frakkin' head STAYS IN YOU and you'll get a bear of an infection. And wear wading when you're fishing in Thompson's Bay in Erie, PA. I'm just sayin'.

Aaron said...

Salt. It is your friend.

Arachnophile said...

Rats - I'd hoped you'd not found this one yet. It was to be my next post. BLARGH. ;-p

Benjamin said...

Doesn't the leeches larger bodymass/smaller genitals follow the same evolutionary pattern as humans (larger-low sperm yield) are to chimpanzees (smaller-higher sperm yield)? Maybe really hung leeches are an somehow evolutionary liability? Being larger than others their adaptations would be more geared towards feeding and sustaining themselves than smaller species who propagate through a brute force sheer numbers approach. Just a thought.

My eye feels wiggly. Cheers on the awesome blog! Double plus fun!

Realityhelix said...

Oh my. A "sliding" sensation you say? BRB, shuddering in revulsion forever.