Coloured SEM of the teeth of a medicinal leech

Coloured SEM of the teeth of a medicinal leech

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This image is part of the feature Parasites

Credit: EYE OF SCIENCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Leech mouth. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the mouthparts of the blood-sucking medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis. It cuts a "Y"-shaped wound in its victim's skin with three rows of chitinous teeth (white). The skin at the wound peels back and allows blood to flow out. The leech's saliva contains a chemical, hirudin, which prevents blood from clotting. Other chemicals in the saliva anaesthetise the wound so that the victim may be unaware that they have been bitten. The leech drinks 10-15 millilitres (ml) of blood and drops off; a further 20-50 ml drips from the wound after the feeding. Magnification: x45 at 6x7cm size.

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Keywords: animal, bionic, bionics, blood sucker, hirudinea, hirudo medicinalis, invertebrate, invertebrates, leech, medicinal, medicinal leech, mouth, nature, parasite, sem, teeth, teeth sem, tooth, wildlife, zoology

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