(FYI – This episode is a *bit* more bloody that usual – especially a little after the 2-minute mark. Just letting you know in case flesh wounds aren’t your thing)
The same blood-sucking leeches feared by hikers and swimmers are making a comeback… in hospitals. Once used for questionable treatments, leeches now help doctors complete complex surgeries to reattach severed body parts.
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Leeches get a bad rap—but they might not deserve it. Yes, they’re creepy crawly blood-suckers. And they can instill an almost primal sense of disgust and revulsion. Humphrey Bogart’s character in the 1951 film The African Queen even went so far as to call them “filthy little devils.”
But the humble leech is making a comeback. Contrary to the typical, derogatory definition of a human “leech,” this critter is increasingly playing a key role as a sidekick for scientists and doctors, simply by being its bloodthirsty self.
Distant cousins of the earthworm, most leech species are parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans alike. They are often found in freshwater and navigate either by swimming or by inching themselves along, using two suckers—one at each end of their body—to anchor themselves.
Upon reaching an unsuspecting host, a leech will surreptitiously attach itself and begin to feed. It uses a triangular set of three teeth to cut in, and secretes a suite of chemicals to thin the blood and numb the skin so its presence goes undetected.
—+ Read the entire article on KQED Science: https://www.kqed.org/science/1921659/take-two-leeches-and-call-me-in-the-morning
—+ For more information:
David Weisblat at UC Berkeley studies leeches development and evolution
Biologists recently reported that leeches in that region can provide a valuable snapshot of which animals are present in a particular area
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