200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 36: “Don't Serve Leidy Anything He Can Dissect ”

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illustration of fluke parasite
Joseph Leidy's illustration of a parasitic fluke from a boa constrictorLibrary & Archives Coll. 12 D box 4 vol. 5

Don't Serve Leidy Anything He Can Dissect

Academy naturalist Joseph Leidy was well-known for his tendency to examine anything and everything that came to his attention. During one evening party, the curious scientist opted to dissect rather than feast on a dish of terrapin turtles.

Leidy reported on the parasites he found in these turtles in Entozoa of the Terrapin, a short article published in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1888. After discussing the variety of threadworms and flukes that he discovered, Leidy informs the reader that most of the terrapin is largely free of parasites and suitable for eating by “rejecting the head, intestines and bladder; or if it is thought desirable to use the intestines they should be slit open and cleansed of the content.”

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