Beneficial Vampires

eeches are worms that have been used as therapeutic tools for thousands of years. History relates that they were used as a remedy for headaches, stomach complaints, eye diseases, mental illness, and other

With 300 teeth in its triple jaw, the leech cuts the victim's skin and sucks the blood with its powerful pharynx and the sucker on its mouth. Between the teeth it has glands that secrete hirudin, which keeps the victim's blood from clotting.

A LEECH CAN ABSORB AN AMOUNT OF BLOOD EQUAL TO

Lifesaving Saliva

Every time these worms bite a host, substances are mixed into their saliva from glands in their mouth. Anticlotting components, vasodilators, and anesthetics have been identified among these substances, which are extracted and used in clinical medicine. Researchers are also trying to fabricate synthetic leech saliva through the use of bioengineering techniques.

BLOOD CLOT

While feeding on blood, the leech secretes its own anticlotting agents so that the blood will not spoil inside its body while waiting to be digested. Its salivary glands produce hirudin, a specific thrombin inhibitor.

toward it.

HOW A LEECH TRAVELS

At either end of the leech is a cavity that the leech can use to attach itself to a surface. To move forward, it attaches one end

The leech advances its front end and attaches it to the underlying surface. It then draws its rear end forward.

When its rear end reaches the attached front end, the leech attaches the rear end to the underlying surface, and the sequence of motions is repeated.

A LEECH CAN ABSORB AN AMOUNT OF BLOOD EQUAL TO

THE MASS OF ITS BODY.

ELASTIC BODY

The segmented body of the leech allows it to move with undulating movements when necessary, for example, to walk. The leech can also put on a show when it is on alert in the presence of a host. At such times it manages to stand itself up on one of its ends.

SUCKER

The leech has two suckers, one at its front end, where the mouth and jaw are located, and another at the rear.

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