New leech discovered in New Jersey

October 1, 2009 4:04:15 PM PDT
There's a new animal in the record book and it will forever refer to a family from New Jersey.Five years ago, Bill Ott, of Alloway, was mowing his lawn when he came across a slimy, black, creepy-crawler that would scrunch up like a slinky.

"It was approximately 8-10 inches long and I thought it was a snake or something cause we see them all the time," Ott said.

However, it wasn't a snake. Bill's wife, Carol, thought it might be a leech and found one of the country's few leech experts at Rutgers-Camden. Dan Shain and a team of assistants collected more of these things over serveral years and determined the Otts had found a brand new species of what's called a terrestrial leech.

Unlike most leeces that live inthe water, these things live on land.

"Part of what makes this so compelling is that we found a new species of a large organism in the most densely populated state in the country," said researcher Beth Wirchansky.

In honor of the Otts who found, fed and turned the monster leech over to scientists, the new species bears their name. It's now officially called Haemopis ottorum.

There aren't many people in the world who have a species named after them. As you can imagine the Otts are touched by the gesture to include them in the big discovery.

"It is an honor. Not everyone can say they have any species named after them, let alone a leech!" said Carol Ott.

If you want to see the Haemopis ottorum in person, they're on display at the Rutgers science building in Camden.


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