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A new species of the medicinal leech (Oligochaeta, Hirudinida, Hirudo) from Transcaucasia and an identification key for the genus Hirudo

Abstract

A recent molecular phylogenetic study has suggested that the genus Hirudo contains a neglected species previously known as the orientalis coloration type of the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. In this paper, the new species is formally described as Hirudo orientalis sp. n. It can most readily be identified by the grass green coloration of the dorsum, segmentally arranged pairs of black quadrangular or rounded dots on its paramarginal dorsal stripes and similarly arranged, but less regular light-colored markings on the predominantly black venter. It has medium-sized epididymes and an evenly coiled vagina. H. orientalis is known from Transcaucasia, Iran, and Uzbekistan. It is widely used in medicine as the “medicinal leech.” Very little is known about its exact distribution, specific habitat, and conservation status. The paper contains an identification key to all species of the genus Hirudo.

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Acknowledgements

Our thanks go to Vladimir Samoylov (Kharkiv, Ukraine) for furnishing some of specimens and to Abdumalik Abdullaev (Samarkand, Uzbekistan) for the information on the distribution of medicinal leeches in Uzbekistan.

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Correspondence to Serge Y. Utevsky.

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Utevsky, S.Y., Trontelj, P. A new species of the medicinal leech (Oligochaeta, Hirudinida, Hirudo) from Transcaucasia and an identification key for the genus Hirudo . Parasitol Res 98, 61 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-005-0017-7

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Keywords

  • Cytochrome Oxidase Subunit
  • Medicinal Leech
  • Longitudinal Stripe
  • Zoological Nomenclature
  • Reddish Stripe