Scientist plays matchmaker to rare, left-coiling snails

19 May, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Tomeu with the babies

They mate facing each other and sliding side by side, so when "left" and "right-handed" snails meet they can not mate because their sex organs are on the wrong side.

Researchers, wanting to study the particular gene that gave him his left-coiling shell, soon found another snail with the same condition - Lefty - to mate with him.

The rare snail - named Jeremy - has a shell whose spirals turn in an anti-clockwise direction, meaning that he can not mate with the majority of the world's snail population who spiral the opposite way.

An appeal to find Jeremy a partner set in motion a global search, as people scoured their streets and gardens for other lefty snails with the same extremely rare anti-clockwise shell pattern.

In case you are wondering how on earth did this happen - snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they can fulfil both roles as mother and father. "In essence, the "lefty" snail is a mirror image of its other shell-dwelling friends", wrote the scientists at the time in a press release.

Angus Davison, a professor at the University of Nottingham in central England, took Jeremy into care and launched an global search a year ago to find a possible mate for the lonely hermaphrodite.

His appeal turned up two possible companions - one located by snail enthusiast in the British city of Ipswich and the other from a snail farmer on the Spanish island of Majorca.

Lefty, from Suffolk, and Tomeu, from Spain, came forward as potential mates following Twitter campaign.

Tomeu and Lefty chose to get together instead.

"It is far more likely that we will get to see left-coiling babies produced in the next generation or even the generation after that", Davison said.

You may remember not so long ago, there was a lonely snail called Jeremy who was searching for love.

The pair began to produce eggs in April and have already had 170 babies, although none of the offspring so far has shared the left-swirls of their parents. They wanted to preserve his genetic legacy.

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