A splendid introduction to the leech's anatomy, life cycle; history, and present-day medical uses--with clear diagrams and dramatic color photos focusing on this unusual cousin of the earthworm. Especially appealing (really!) are the photos of Dr. Sawyer, a leech specialist, cuddling an 18"" Amazon beauty; close-ups of the leech's jaw and teeth; and the many photos of ""Biopharm,"" a farm that raises and breeds more than 100,000 leeches annually. Once used extensively in medicine, leeches are again coming into prominence--plastic surgeons use them to reduce swelling and to aid in skin grafts; scientists believe that leech saliva may be an important weapon in the fight against heart attacks, strokes, glaucoma, and connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. While the writing here is at times technical, there are enough odd, weird, and ghoulish facts to keep the reader engrossed. Information on collecting leeches in the wild and experiments for science projects are included. First-rate. Glossary; extensive bibliography; appendices; scientific classification of leeches and sources of leech supplies; index.