Max Nordeen's Petrified Leech
The death of Wheels Museum curator Max Nordeen and dispersion of his life's collections have been a blow -- however inevitable -- to the Lone-Guy-with-a-Museum Industry. While there will never be another Max Nordeen, his fans were relieved to hear of Roadsideamerica.com's acquisition (with Craig Thom's help) of his Petrified Leech at the estate auction in August 2005.
This is how the Petrified Leech looks today -- still intact, though more green and orange than we recalled. In his leech spiel, Max always mentioned the preservation was so perfect you could tell what sex it was (male).
A few skeptics have speculated the rare specimen may not be a Petrified Leech at all, outrageously suggesting it's just a twisted cast-off from a plastic extruder or manufacturing waste dump. Max got it from a guy at a gun show who swore it came from Mexico (fossil hotbed for bloodsuckers).
We await a final verdict by the scientific community, but in a way, it doesn't matter. Max presented the specimen as a "Petrified Leech" for decades, accruing magical attraction validity that can't be diminished by posthumous criticism.