Blood-Sucking Prognosticators

My favorite animal-weather prognosticator was Dr. Merryweather.  A physician with that name could hardly have helped but dabbling in weather prediction. Dr. Merryweather unveiled his “storm warning system” during Britain’s Great Exhibition of 1851. This system was a jar with 12   leeches and a small bell that would ring when the leeches became active. I have yet to learn the details of the bell ringing. Dr. Merryweather politicked the British Government to set up his leech, storm-warning systems all along the coast. It is believed that Dr. Merryweather got his idea from Spanish writings of the mid-1700s. With a 24-hour lead-time, the Spanish leeches would give one of 9 warnings.

  1. If the leech takes up a position in the bottle’s neck rain is at hand
  2. If he/she forms a half-moon, when he is out of the water and sticking to the glass, it is a sure sign of a tempest
  3. If he – she is in continual movement, thunder and lightning are coming soon
  4. If he seems as if he were trying to raise himself from the surface of the water, there will be a change in the weather
  5. If it moves slowly close to one spot, cold weather is coming
  6. If he moves rapidly about, expect strong winds when he stops
  7. If she lies coiled up on the bottom, fine, clear weather is coming
  8. If she/he forms a hook, clear, cold weather is coming
  9. If he/she is in a fixed position, very cold weather is certain to follow

While leeches have lost their historic luster in recent decades, modern animalistic prognosticators now favor insects. “They are totally non-thinking minicomputers whose every action or reaction throughout their brief existence is predetermined.  Think of how much fore absolute an entomologist can be than a human behavioral psychologist, and how much more dependable a weather prediction based on insect behavior can be than one based on the individualized behavior of humans, or even sows” Source: A. Lee (1976) weather wisdom, Doubleday.

If bloodsucker fail you and you are in dire need of a storm forecast, watch for mist over you asses’ manger for it will indicate a tempest.  This last one comes from Theophrastus’ work De Signis Aqyarum et ventotrum became rare. Some say that mangers are, today, far more rare than asses.


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