Shell-shocked: Rare snail loses out in love triangle

May 18, 2017
Jeremy the 'lefty' snail, has a shell whose spirals turn in an anti-clockwise direction, meaning that he cannot mate with the majority of the world's snail population

A lovelorn snail who failed to find a mate because of his unusually-shaped shell hit the headlines in Britain on Thursday after two potential partners got together and left him to share in parenting duties.

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

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

"This snail is very rare. It's literally one in a million," said Davison, who studies the genetics of these types of garden snails.

The BBC reported in November that Jeremy had finally found love after an enthusiast who heard the appeal introduced him to Lefty from Suffolk in eastern England, who has a similarly-shaped shell.

Enthusiasts also came forward with Tomeu, another left-coiling snail from the Spanish island of Majorca. While there was what one scientist described as "flirting" between the two, no lasting bond ensued.

Tomeu and Lefty decided to get together instead.

"It's like that thing where maybe you introduce your best friend to a girl you're interested in" and they couple up, Davison told BBC radio.

The duo has now produced their first offspring, of 170 baby snails who coil the opposite way to their parents and the same way as the majority of snails.

Jeremy remains with his new neighbours in the Nottingham laboratory and is helping to look after the children but Davison said he was not giving up on the search for more .

"We would love to have them," he told AFP.

Explore further: Rare, lonely 'lefty' snail seeks mate for love—and genetic study

Related Stories

Snail genetic tracks reveal ancient human migration

June 19, 2013

Some snails in Ireland and the Pyrenees are genetically almost identical, perhaps because they were carried across the Atlantic during an 8000-year-old human migration. The snail genetics tie in with studies of human genetics ...

Sex and the pond snail

November 12, 2008

A third-year undergraduate student at The University of Nottingham has had her research into the sex life of the pond snail published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Snail shell coiling programmed by protein patterning

May 27, 2013

Snail shells coil in response to an lopsided protein gradient across their shell mantles, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal EvoDevo. In contrast the shell mantle of limpets, whose shells do not coil, ...

Recommended for you

Mammal long thought extinct in Australia resurfaces

December 15, 2017

A crest-tailed mulgara, a small carnivorous marsupial known only from fossilised bone fragments and presumed extinct in NSW for more than century, has been discovered in Sturt National Park north-west of Tibooburra.

Finding a lethal parasite's vulnerabilities

December 15, 2017

An estimated 100 million people around the world are infected with Strongyloides stercoralis, a parasitic nematode, yet it's likely that many don't know it. The infection can persist for years, usually only causing mild symptoms. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.