A snail of a tale

In case you hadn’t already noticed, I am uncommonly fond of snails. In fact, this week, I have been traveling in Costa Rica, and trying to convince my friend and her family, the value of digging in the sand to unearth burrowing snails that live on the beaches here. Today I scared my traveling companions when I gasped, not because I was injured, or startled, but because I was so excited to see a HUGE (by snail standards) specimen worth exploring.

 

I was lucky to glimpse this snail after a wave exposed it, before it quickly burrowed back into the sand.
I was lucky to glimpse this snail after a wave exposed it, before it quickly burrowed back into the sand.

What struck me as particularly interesting, is how similar some of the species in Costa Rica look to those I study in Nahant. Some quick internet research revealed that members of both the Littorina and Lacuna genus, which are particularly ubiquitous on New England rocky shores, also occur on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, where I am visiting. Amazing that I can travel roughly 4000 miles and to a completely different ocean, and still feel at home, comforted by the familiarity of the relatives of my local snails.

Littorine snails congregate on the scarce rocky refuges of the primarily sandy beaches of Costa Rica.
Littorine snails congregate on one of the scarce rocky refuges of the primarily sandy beaches in Costa Rica.

 

Also while traveling, I got a chance to do some pleasure reading, and I came across some recent research that sparked my interest, since it was Molluscan in nature. According to an article in Biology Letters, researchers in South East Asia have discovered a sea slug that discards its penis after copulation, growing a new one for its next reproductive effort. Read more about the first documented disposable penis here, and don’t ever underestimate the entertainment value of the fascinating Phylum of Molluscs.

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