By Bill Schutt
For hundreds of years, blood feeders have inhabited our nightmares and horror tales, in addition to the shadowy nation-states of medical wisdom. In darkish ceremonial dinner, zoologist invoice Schutt takes readers on an unique voyage into the area of a few of nature's strangest creatures--the sanguivores. utilizing a pointy eye and mordant wit, Schutt makes a remarkably persuasive case that vampire bats, leeches, ticks, mattress insects, and different vampires are as deserving of our interest as hotter and fuzzier species are--and that a lot of them are even worthy of conservation.
Schutt takes us from rural Trinidad to the jungles of Brazil to profit approximately probably the most reviled, misunderstood, and marvelously advanced animals on our planet: vampire bats. just recently has truth started to disentangle itself from fiction pertaining to those impressive animals, and Schutt delves into the myths and misconceptions surrounding them.
Examining the substance that sustains nature's vampires, Schutt finds simply how little we really knew approximately blood till good into the 20 th century. We revisit George Washington on his deathbed to profit how principles approximately blood and the supposedly healing price of bloodletting, first devised through the traditional Egyptians and Greeks, survived into really smooth occasions. Schutt additionally tracks the background of medicinal leech use. as soon as hired by means of the hundreds of thousands to empty perceived excesses of blood, this day the marketplace for those historic creatures is booming as soon as again--but for terribly diversified reasons.
Among the opposite blood feeders we meet in those pages are mattress insects, or "ninja insects," that are creating a creepy resurgence in posh motels and well-kept houses close to you. additionally, darkish dinner party info our harmful and occasionally lethal encounters with ticks, chiggers, and mites (the latter implicated in Colony cave in Disorder--currently devastating honey bees worldwide). Then there are the actually weird--vampire finches. And should you concept piranha have been frightening, a few humans think that the candiru (or willy fish) is the easiest cause to prevent swimming within the Amazon.
Enlightening, alarming, and attractive to our relish the unusual, darkish dinner party friends right into a a part of the flora and fauna to which we're, via our blood, inextricably associated.
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Additional info for Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures
This leech/crayfish organization isn't really continually optimistic for the host because a few branchiobdellids don’t give you the aforementioned cleansing companies. a couple of species reason no harm—they’re in basic terms opportunists, eating scraps of natural subject scattered approximately via the messy crayfish because it shreds its foodstuff into bitesized bits. one other branchiobdellid, although, is parasitic. It lives in the crayfish’s gill chamber the place it feeds at the gill filaments and blood of a similar freshwater crayfish whose our bodies are so accurately partitioned through its nonparasitic cousins. Even worse, despite the fact that, are the circumstances during which crayfish are infested via lethally excessive numbers of leeches, that may occasionally hide their our bodies like dwelling carpets, finally killing them. *72 Early use of leeches by way of guy mirrored the significance of bloodletting as a healing device. Leeches additionally gave practitioners an alternate while “breathing a vein” wasn’t acceptable. for instance, leeches will be utilized to components of the physique that have been tough or most unlikely to bleed via lancing or different capacity. infected tonsils may possibly demand leeches to be hooked up to the again of a patient’s throat or the bloodsuckers may be hired to empty power hemorrhoids. Leeches have been utilized to the scrotum to regard the swollen testicles that resulted from gonorrhea they usually have been additionally common to regard maladies of the feminine reproductive procedure. also, leeches have been the popular approach to bleeding ladies and youngsters “who required a gradual withdrawal of blood. ” In what's arguably the strangest use of leeches on checklist, the sixteenth-century French historian Pierre de Brantôme acknowledged how leeches have been inserted into the vaginas of ladies on their marriage ceremony nights in order that they may “seem just like the virgins and maidens they used to be…so because the gallant husband who comes on his marriage ceremony evening to attack them, bursts their bulb from the place the blood flows. ” in response to Brantôme, battering this bogus maidenhead (or having it battered for you) consistently resulted in an annelid-assisted model of postcoital bliss: “And either are bloody and (there is) an exceptional pleasure for either and during this method the consideration of the fortress is secure. ” correct. Medicinal leech use reached its zenith in Europe within the first half the 19th century, the place Napoléon’s leader physician, François-Joseph Broussais, ascribed to the concept all illnesses have been as a result an excessive amount of blood (Galen’s plethoras again—fifteen hundred years later). consequently, Broussais prescribed leeches (and the always-popular “starvation”) in a lot an analogous manner health care professional at the present time could suggest aspirin and mattress relaxation. Given Broussais’ great impression on eu drugs, using leeches exploded within the 1830s, with over 41 million utilized in 1833. French troops have been bled for each feasible illness. a few of them have been handled with as many as fifty leeches at a time—so many, in reality, that they have been stated to be donning glistening “coats of mail. ” Fashion-conscious women of the time even wore attire “à l. a. Broussais,” adorning them with imitation leeches.