Six silly facts about snails  

A few years ago, the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) neuroscientists discovered they can successfully transfer memories from one snail to another.  They chose snails to test on because they have extremely simple brains. What the scientists did was they found when a snail is shocked, it recoils briefly, but when shocked again, it recoils for longer. The scientists then inject the RNA from a pre shocked snail into an un-shocked snail, shock it and, the previously un-shocked snail reacts the same way a pre-shocked snail would. In essence, it’s as though it “remembers”  being shocked once before, even though it has not. This experiment suggests that memories may not only be stored in the brain, but in the nucleus of the body’s cells.  

Scientists conducted many experiments on snail memory: they found that when snails are placed in stressful situations, such as crowded environments or water with low calcium, the snails lose their memories. They performed this experiment by exposing the snails to something beforehand (such as a shock). Once the snails left the stressful environment, they lost their memories of training. 

Most people assume that snails are deaf because they have no ears, but they are not. They use vibrations to detect noise. They have tentacles to aid their sense of hearing. They cannot hear much through the vibrations, but they are not fully deaf.  

Contrary to popular belief, snails have teeth! They are extremely small and placed across the tongue of the snail. Each snail has an average of 20,000 teeth! Sea snails’ teeth are made up of the strongest biological material known to man, even stronger than titanium! 

Snails have eyes. You may have seen them on the top of their tentacles. Those eyes do function, but not very well. Snails have to manually focus their eyes by moving their tentacles in the right direction. Not only that, but since their eyes are lacking an important muscle that other animals have, they are unable to see things in the distance.  So, everything snails see is blurry, unfocused, and in black-and-white!

Technically, snails have no reason to love. Humans and animals love in order to form social bonds, but snails are very solitary creatures. They feel no protection towards their mates or young. Snails are not very social creatures in general. Snails may love to eat a cucumber or a leaf, but that may be it. They are able to love (chemically) but, it seems, have not found the motivation to.  

Written by Scarlett Bennett (year 9) 

1 Comment

  1. Kelly, this is so interesting to read! Who would have thought that a tiny snail has so many technical issues to make it worthy of study! Well done!!


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