The Motivation Leech
The motivation leech, Hirudo nomoworkus, is a species of leech closely related to the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis. Found mostly in Europe, this strange animal has, for reasons as of yet unknown, but presumed to be linked to human activity, spread as far as China in recent years.
Unremarkable at first glance, and undistinguishable from its cousin, the medicinal leech, it has only recently been identified as a seperate species, thanks to sequencing of its mitochondrial genome.
Motivation leeches, as their name suggest, provoke a drastic drop in motivation in ther victims. This has traditionaly been attributed to the loss of blood, but recent studies show that there are clearly other factors at work here, since patients who simply had the same amount of blood extracted from them through medical procedures showed no signs of demotivation.
Chemicals present in the saliva of the leech, and used to prevent pain or blood-clotting in the wound, are the prime suspects for causing a drop in motivation, but studies have yet to confirm this hypothesis. But although science has only recently identified the species, a careful reading of ancient texts suggests that some people where aware of its effects long before now.
Accounts of various important political figures, and their opponents, suggest that the leech was a popular way of getting rid of ones rivals. Cleopatra is believed to have used it on both Ceasar and Mark Anthony to persuade them to leave Rome and spend time with her instead. It has also been speculated that some versions of the “Tale of Genji” suggest that the famous japanese courtier has used an extract made from the leech when trying to seduce a particularly reticent courtisane.
Whatever the truth behind those stories, it does seems unlikely that the effects of the motivation leech have gone unnoticed to this day, especially since the animals were probably used alongside regular medicinal leeches for a long time. Why no scientist has made note of it before now, though, remains a mystery. Maybe they just never got 'round to it.