How I Became Bait for Bloodsucking Leeches

Mark Siddall is an expert on leeches. To find new species, he travels the world and wades into strange waters, offering his own flesh as bait.

My expedition to Peru was especially fruitful. We started out in the Andes Mountains, elevation 16,000 feet, to look for a lake that had been recorded in the 1880s as having the highest-altitude leech ever found. We found the site, but the problem was that local mining operations had obliterated the lake. Fortunately, just as we were about to leave for lower ground, I spotted another small lake nearby. We jumped in, turned over some rocks to unsettle any leeches that might be in the sediment, and felt some pinches on the skin. We found the highest leech ever, a new species I’m still trying to classify.

But it gets really weird when he begins to describe specialized leeches that target certain body parts. Link

(Image credit: Zina Saunders)

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