Parasites affect host responses to environmental change

Ignoring the role of parasites may lead to a misinterpretation of organism responses to environmental change, according to an Innovative Viewpoints article by ecologists from the University of Georgia. Their paper, "To improve ...

How the snail's shell got its coil

If you look at a snail's shell, the chances are it will coil to the right. But, occasionally, you might find an unlucky one that twists in the opposite direction—as fans of Jeremy thelefty snail will remember, these snails ...

Coastal organisms trapped in 99-million-year-old amber

Most amber inclusions are organisms that lived in the forest. It is very rare to find sea life trapped in amber. However, an international research group led by Prof. Wang Bo from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology ...

Species by the dozen moved north during marine heatwaves

Dozens of species of sea slugs, jellyfish and other marine life from toastier southern waters migrated into the Northern California region over an unusually long two-year period of severe heatwaves, says a new scientific ...

Infertile snails have recovered along the Norwegian coast

The environmental pollutant TBT can mimic hormones to the extent that it sterilizes female snails and make them grow non-functional penises and vas deferens. But for the first time since monitoring started up in 1991 and ...

Snails become risk-takers when hungry

Hunger increases risk-taking behaviour in snails, according to research from neuroscientists at the University of Sussex.

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The word snail is a common name for almost all members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the mid adult stage. When the word snail is used in a general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails.

Snails lacking a shell or having only a very small one are usually called slugs. Snails that have a broadly conical shell that is not coiled or appears not to be coiled are usually known as limpets.

Snails can be found in a wide range of environments from ditches, deserts, and the abyssal depths of the sea. Although most people are familiar with terrestrial snails, land snails are in the minority. Marine snails have much greater diversity and a greater biomass. The great majority of snail species are marine. Numerous kinds can be found in fresh water and even brackish water. Many snails are herbivorous, though a few land species and many marine species are omnivores or predatory carnivores.

Snails that respire using a lung belong to the group Pulmonata, while those with gills form a paraphyletic group, in other words, snails with gills are divided into a number of taxonomic groups that are not very closely related. Snails with lungs and with gills have diversified widely enough over geological time that a few species with gills can be found on land, numerous species with a lung can be found in freshwater, and a few species with a lung can be found in the sea.

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