Thu Aug 22, 2019, 06:17 PM

A New Species of Leech Is Discovered Near Washington, D.C. -

Smithsonian researcher describes a previously unknown species of olive-green bloodsucker that has three jaws with up to 59 teeth

Just another bloodsucker in the District of Criminals

In the summer of 2015, when Smithsonian research zoologist Anna Phillips and other scientists were standing in slow-moving swamp water, letting leeches latch onto their bare legs or gathering them up in nets from muddy pond bottoms, they didn’t realize that some of the bloodsuckers they’d collected belonged to an entirely new species. But in a just-published paper in the Journal of Parasitology, Phillips and her colleagues from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Royal Ontario Museum report that a previously unknown leech species, Macrobdella mimicus, is the first to be discovered on the continent in more than 40 years.

An international collaboration investigating biodiversity in leech populations led Phillips, a curator of parasitic worms and invertebrate zoology at the National Museum of Natural History, to streams and ponds across the eastern United States. Wading into the water, she checked rocks and submerged wood scraps for leeches to collect and analyze.

Later, DNA tests on the leeches’ suckers came back with an unexpected result. They showed that for some leech specimens, the genetic fingerprints differed by as much as six and eleven percent from the others. That evidence, says Phillips, stood out like a (blood-)red flag. Scientists know that a genetic difference of more than two percent in a telltale part of the genome typically indicates the two creatures may be distinct species.

“Superficially, this looked like M. decora,” she says, referencing a closely related species of leech with a range that stretches from Canada to the southern states.

The results of the DNA analysis, however, prompted them to give the specimens a closer look...more:

"Drain the Swamp- it's full of LEECHES"

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Reply A New Species of Leech Is Discovered Near Washington, D.C. - (Original post)
Aquila Aug 2019 OP
Badsamm Aug 2019 #1

Response to Aquila (Original post)

Thu Aug 22, 2019, 07:22 PM

1. I see the family resemblance, probably has fat ankles too

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