Leechfest 2006: “We are Always the Bait”

By Carl Zimmer | February 6, 2006 10:57 pm

leech.jpgI know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, I need more stories about leeches. I want to find out what scientists are learning about how leeches evolved.

And I know that’s not all you want.

You want to watch a leech video.

And you want a podcast about leech evolution.

Well, you’re in luck.

Here’s the story, which I wrote for tomorrow’s New York Times. It’s a profile of Mark Siddall, hirundologist extraordinaire at the American Museum of Natural History. His motto: We are always the bait.

The story inspired the video team at the Times to film Siddall, who explains why we really shouldn’t be scared of leeches. Watch here. (Make sure you use high bandwidth if you can handle it–so you can see those nice leech undulations.)

And here’s the podcast. The Science Times has decided to plunge into the world of podcasting, and they thought one of the things they should start off with is the leech. I couldn’t agree more.

Welcome to Leechfest 2006.

Update, 2/7/06 7:30 am: apparently the video link I provided is not good. You can get to it from the article here.

Update, 9:45 am: Scratch that. Dylab in comments points here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: The Parasite Files

Comments (8)

  1. 4u1e

    Me either – (Firefox 1.5.0.1/Win XP)

  2. Scott Belyea

    The video link in the Loom item is dead. If I go to the Times article, the video link from there works fine.

  3. Dylab

    Her is the direct link to the video. I think something is wrong with the java.

    http://nytimes.feedroom.com/?fr_story=8f3780d30788370c35986c41fff4d8c13e0f8cd0

  4. thefinn

    “The story inspired the video team at the Times to film Siddall, who explains why we really shouldn’t be scared of leeches.”

    Not all of us are. I know a woman who had a pet leech for a while. She was devastated when it died.

  5. I wonder how/what she fed the leach!

  6. David

    Siddall says: “The only other animals that swim in a vertical undulating pattern are whales and seals.” Don’t many nudibranchs also swim in this way?

  7. thefinn

    “I wonder how/what she fed the leach!”

    Why, her own blood, of course. What did you expect?

  8. KiwiInOz

    Apparently human blood makes many leeches sick (Dr Roy Sawyer, author of Leech biology and behaviour vols 1-3, personal communication)!

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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