The Secret Science Club with Leech Expert Mark Siddall
The Bell House (149 7th St., Brooklyn)
Spineless wonders! Bloodsucking beasts! Creepy, crawly coolness!
Using his own body as a lure, Mark Siddall wades into Rwandan wetlands, rain forests of Madagascar, and swamps of French Guiana in quest of intriguing leech specimens, such as the world’s largest species, the 18-inch-long Giant Amazon Leech. It’s all in the name of exploring leech biodiversity, leech evolution, blood-feeding behavior, and these beasties’ anticoagulant abilities. Dr. Siddall asks:
–Why does the newly discovered Tyrant Leech King, a.k.a. T. rex, favor dining on mucus membranes, such as the inside of the human nose?
–What are legitimate (as well as highly suspect) health uses for European medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis) and how did these creatures evolve their anticoagulant abilities?
–How might chemicals in leech saliva be used to develop new drugs to prevent heart attacks and fight cancer?
–Is there a symbiotic relationship between leeches and the microbes that live inside them? How have advances in molecular and digital imaging transformed the study of microfauna?
Mark Siddall is curator of Annelida and Protozoa at the American Museum of Natural History, professor of invertebrate zoology at the Richard Gilder Graduate School, and principal investigator at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics. The author of dozens of scientific papers, Dr. Siddall has been a featured scientist in the New York Times, Discover, and on PBS NOVA ScienceNOW.
Before & After
–Wiggle to grooves that wriggle
–Try our naturalist-inspired cocktail of the night, the Bloody Marky
–Stick around for the hemoglobin-powered Q&A