Meet the new T. rex

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

If I ask you to imagine a T. rex, what do you see? Probably something that looks a lot like this guy, right?

T. rex skeleton

Or maybe this?

T. rex

Or how about this guy?

What sort of dinosaur is he?

Yeah, probably not.

Well, whatever images you conjure in your mind when you think of T. rex, now there’s another creature to add to the list. Meet Tyrannobdella rex.

Tyrannobdella rex

This T. rex, whose name means “tyrant leech king,” is a new genus and species of leech from Peru, whose scientific description was just published this Wednesday. This new species has a single jaw and very large teeth. Creepy looking, right? Wait, it gets better.

Because leeches feed off of the blood of other animals, they’re parasites. Who’s this leeches primary host? It looks like it might be us. There are three documented cases of T. rex, and in each one the leech has been found in a person’s nasal cavity shortly after the person spent time in local lakes and streams.

Phylogenetic analysis (the study of evolutionary relatedness among organisms) indicates that T. rex is a member of a larger group of leeches, all of whom feed of mammalian mucosal membranes. Generally, leeches aren’t life threatening, but since T. rex makes its home in people’s noses, there’s a danger of choking and suffocation. We have our own leeches here in Colorado lakes and streams, but so far none that go up people’s noses (unless you put them there).

3 Responses to “Meet the new T. rex”

  1. 1 Maria Mortati April 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Wow, that is creepy and cool. Love the Barney reference.

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April 2010

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