From tiny ticks to giant sea lampreys, Earth is home to over 30,000 diverse species whose main job in life is to suck blood from other creatures.
But before you judge them, did you know that bloodsuckers are a marvel of evolution? And that many of these critters, like female mosquitos, only drink blood to feed the nutrients to their babies? It's true! The new exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, Bloodsuckers: Legends to Leeches, lets us know that these animals are an important part of ecosystems and food chains.
People have been intrigued by bloodsuckers for thousands of years. If it weren't for these unique animals, we may never have been able to enjoy spooky stories and films starring fictional vampires, like the original Count Dracula or even Hotel Transylvania's Mavis Dracula Loughran.
Even if you're not into vampire folklore, there is something fascinating about creatures like leeches and bats — ones that latch onto other animals and suck their blood... and can do it without the other animal even knowing! Through impressive displays and aquariums with live specimens, this exhibit is full of information that will make you see blood-feeders in a whole new way. You might even end up respecting them a bit more than when you walked in.
Super Sucker Facts
Here are some cool facts we learned at this exhibit:
- Black flies existed millions of years ago in the Mesozoic Era. Their first victims were probably dinosaurs!
- Blood-feeding is not as easy as it looks! Vampire bats are the only mammals that have actually evolved to survive entirely on blood. Most bloodsuckers have to supplement their diet with bacteria to get the rest of their nutrients.
- Leeches were once sold at pharmacies as it was believed that draining the body of some blood was healthy (we now know that this is not true but the European medicinal leech actually became endangered due to this practise!).
If you're in the Toronto area be sure to check out this exhibit and learn more cool facts.
Bloodsuckers: Legends to Leeches will be on at the ROM until March 2020.