How would you like a T. rex up the nose?
A new species of leech, called Tyrannobdella rex, which was found attached to the nasal mucous membrane of a 9-year-old girl in the central Peruvian region of Chanchamayo, made the International Institute for Species Explorations list of the top 10 new species described in 2010.
Unlike other leeches, T. rex has only a single jaw, with enormous teeth, according to the researchers who described in a paper published in PlosOne. The leech removed from the girls nose was 65 mm (2.5 inches) long. Not surprisingly, one of the patients symptoms was a headache.
Other entries on the Top 10 list include Darwins bark spider (Caerostris darwini), an orb-weaving spider that spins the largest webs known to science, spanning rivers and lakes with silk that is tougher than Kevlar, according to the scientists who discovered it in Madagascar. The webs can measure up to 2.8 square meters (30.1 square feet), with bridge lines up to 25 meters (82 feet) long.
The list also includes a Brazilian mushroom that glows in the dark and an underwater mushroom found in the US state of Oregon; a rust-eating bacterium found on the wreck of the Titanic; a golden spotted monitor lizard from the Philippines; the first cricket known to pollinate a flowering plant (it is the only pollinator of a rare orchid on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean); a new duiker species (Walters duiker, Philantomba walteri), discovered in a West African bush meat market; a jumping cockroach from South Africa that can compete with grasshoppers; and the spiny, bug-eyed Louisiana pancake batfish (Halieutichthys intermedius), which does not resemble an ordinary pancake, and which could be threatened by the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Barbara Fraser is a freelance journalist based in Lima, Peru. With 20 years of experience in Latin America, she puts a human face on current events and public policy. She offers research, writing, editing and photography services, with particular expertise in Latin American, environmental, public health and social issues.