Researchers have discovered a species of leech that has a "particularly unpleasant habit of infesting humans," most notably in people's noses. The team of scientists published their study of this animal in in the Public Library of Science. The "clinical presentations" are not for the faint-of-heart. From PLoS:
A new genus and species of leech from Perú was found feeding from the nasopharynx of humans. Unlike any other leech previously described, this new taxon has but a single jaw with very large teeth. Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial genes using parsimony and Bayesian inference demonstrate that the new species belongs among a larger, global clade of leeches, all of which feed from the mucosal surfaces of mammals."Tyrannobdella rex N. Gen. N. Sp. and the Evolutionary Origins of Mucosal Leech Infestations" (Thanks, Antinous!)
This new species, found feeding from the upper respiratory tract of humans in Perú, clarifies an expansion of the family Praobdellidae to include the new species Tyrannobdella rex n. gen. n.sp., along with others in the genera Dinobdella, Myxobdella, Praobdella and Pintobdella. Moreover, the results clarify a single evolutionary origin of a group of leeches that specializes on mucous membranes, thus, posing a distinct threat to human health.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.