A minuscule creature clung to the side of a wet stalagmite in the dank depths of a cave in the country of Georgia. The eyeless creature couldn’t see as a human hand reached for it, plucking it from its comfortable position on the rock.
Scientists were exploring in western Georgia when they discovered unusual leeches deep within karst caves — and identified two new species.
The new species of leeches are known as Dina imeretiensis and Dina samegreloensis, according to a study published Sept. 20 in the European Journal of Taxonomy. The discovery marks the third and fourth species of cave leech discovered in Georgia.
Researchers said both new species are differentiated from similar leeches by their large and distinctly shaped genitalia. Both species are also eyeless.
D. imeretiensis is a medium-sized leech, measuring approximately 1.8 inches long and 0.28 inches wide, according to the study. It is tri-colored, with a white tip that fades to dark blue which fades to a light pinkish purple color. The creatures were found stuck to wet stalagmites in the dark zone of Prometheus Cave.
D. samegreloensis is smaller, measuring about 1.26 inches long and 0.24 inches wide, the study said. The slimy critter is pale pink when living, and when preserved is an unpatterned grayish color. The leeches were discovered beneath stones in an underground stream in Motena Cave.
Scientists said they named both species after the location where they were discovered.
Georgia is situated at the intersection of eastern Europe and western Asia. The country borders Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey.