Current Snails News and Events

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HKUST decodes a deep-sea vent-endemic snail hologenome
A research team led by Prof. QIAN Peiyuan, Head and Chair Professor from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)'s Department of Ocean Science and David von Hansemann Professor of Science, has discovered that Gigantopelta snail houses both sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and methane-oxidizing bacteria inside its esophageal gland cells (part of digestive system) as endosymbionts, disclosing a novel dual symbiosis system and the molecular adaptation to the extreme environment, gaining a new understanding of the origin of life on Earth. (2021-02-19)

Once bitten, twice shy: the neurology of why one bad curry could put us off for life
A negative experience with food usually leaves us unable to stomach the thought of eating that particular dish again. Using sugar-loving snails as models, researchers at the University of Sussex believe these bad experiences could be causing a switch in our brains, which impacts our future eating habits. (2021-02-11)

Litter provides habitat for diverse animal communities in rivers, study finds
In a study of local rivers, experts at the University of Nottingham in the UK have discovered more invertebrates - animals without a backbone, such as insects and snails - living on litter than on rocks. (2021-01-25)

Native biodiversity collapse in the Eastern Mediterranean
An international team led by Paolo G. Albano from the Department of Palaeontology at the University of Vienna quantified a dramatic biodiversity collapse of up to 95 per cent of native species in the Eastern Mediterranean. The study is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (2021-01-07)

A single gene 'invented' haemoglobin several times
Thanks to the marine worm Platynereis dumerilii, an animal whose genes have evolved very slowly, scientists from CNRS, Université de Paris and Sorbonne Université, in association with others at the University of Saint Petersburg and the University of Rio de Janeiro, have shown that while haemoglobin appeared independently in several species, it actually descends from a single gene transmitted to all by their last common ancestor. These findings were published on 29 December 2020 in BMC Evolutionary Biology. (2020-12-29)

Remote Hawaiian island harbors last land snails of their kind
The island of Nihoa, a slice of jagged rock that juts out of the Pacific Ocean, is the sole refuge for a rediscovered species of native Hawaiian land snail previously presumed to be extinct. (2020-12-07)

Tiny cave snail with muffin-top waistline rolls out of the dark in Laos
Recent cave exploration has turned up a tiny, top-heavy snail that glistens under the light of the microscope lens. Only 1.80 mm tall, this transparent snail bulges at the middle, giving a natural appearance to the ''muffin-top'' waistline. The paper, authored by Adrienne Jochum and co-authors from France and Switzerland, and published in the open-access journal Subterranean Biology, reveals new biodiversity from the seldom explored caves of central Laos. (2020-11-16)

Declines in shellfish species on rocky seashores match climate-driven changes
Mussels, barnacles, and snails are declining in the Gulf of Maine, according to a new paper by biologists Peter Petraitis of the University of Pennsylvania and Steve Dudgeon of California State University, Northridge. Their 20-year dataset reveals that the populations' steady dwindling matches up with the effects of climate change on the region. (2020-10-20)

Glitter litter could be damaging rivers - study
New research indicates that glitter could be causing ecological damage to our rivers and lakes. (2020-10-14)

Future ocean conditions could cause significant physical changes in marine mussels
Scientists from the University of Plymouth showed increased temperature and acidification of our oceans over the next century could have a range of effects on an economically important marine species (2020-10-09)

Planktonic sea snails and slugs may be more adaptable to ocean acidification than expected
Pteropods, or ''wing-footed'' sea snails and slugs, may be more resilient to acidic oceans than previously thought, scientists report. By digging into their evolutionary history, the research team found that pteropods are much older than expected and survived past crises when the oceans became warmer and more acidic. Their findings are a surprising turn of events, as these beautiful and enigmatic marine creatures are currently one of the most adversely affected by ocean acidification. (2020-09-30)

Finding the Achilles' heel of a killer parasite
Two studies led by UT Southwestern researchers shed light on the biology and potential vulnerabilities of schistosomes -- parasitic flatworms that cause the little-known tropical disease schistosomiasis. The findings, published online today in Science, could change the course of this disease that kills up to 250,000 people a year. (2020-09-24)

Understanding the movement patterns of free-swimming marine snails
New research looks at the swimming and sinking kinematics of nine species of warm water pteropods (sea snails) to shed light on their ecology, predator-prey interactions, and vertical distributions. By using a high-speed stereophotogrammetry system, investigators were able to focus on how the shell shape, body geometry, and body size affect their swimming behavior from a fluid mechanics perspective, while image analysis and metabarcoding related swimming behaviors to night time and daytime vertical distributions. (2020-09-17)

Poetry in motion: Engineers analyze the fluid physics of movement in marine snails
In a new interdisciplinary study that combines intellectual curiosity with awe, researchers show in detail that the swimming and sinking behaviors of tropical marine snails are influenced by body size and shell shape, as predicted from fluid physics theory. (2020-09-07)

'Wrong-way' migrations stop shellfish from escaping ocean warming
Ocean warming is paradoxically driving bottom-dwelling invertebrates -- including sea scallops, blue mussels, surfclams and quahogs that are valuable to the shellfish industry -- into warmer waters and threatening their survival, a Rutgers-led study shows. (2020-09-07)

Massively parallel sequencing unlocks cryptic diversity of eye parasites in fish
Scientists developed a methodology that uses next-generation sequencing technology for fast and efficient screening of genetic diversity of fish eye parasites. (2020-09-07)

Uncovering the hidden life of 'dead' coral reefs
'Dead' coral rubble can support more animals than live coral, according to University of Queensland researchers trialling a high-tech sampling method. UQ's Dr Kenny Wolfe said that reef rubble habitat was often overlooked as desolate, unattractive and 'dead', however reef rubble was very much alive. (2020-08-31)

Native Hawaiian tiger cowries eat alien invasive species
Researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, have discovered the Hawaiian tiger cowrie is a voracious predator of sponges. Among preferred sponge prey is the invasive Orange Keyhole sponge (Mycale grandis). (2020-08-18)

New native Hawaiian land snail species discovered, first in 60 years
Auriculella gagneorum, a small candy-striped snail from Oahu's Waianae Mountains, represents the first new species of a living Hawaiian land snail described in 60 years. (2020-07-23)

St Petersburg University scientists count all the tiny snails in the Arctic
St Petersburg University Scientists have summarised all the known information about Arctic snails that have dimensions less than five millimetres. The information gathered will help to learn more about marine ecosystem pollution and climate change. (2020-07-17)

Pesticides speed the spread of deadly waterborne pathogens
Widespread use of pesticides can speed the transmission of the debilitating disease schistosomiasis, while also upsetting the ecological balances in aquatic environments that prevent infections, finds a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The infection, which can trigger lifelong liver and kidney damage, affects hundreds of millions of people every year and is second only to malaria among parasitic diseases, in terms of its global impact on human health. (2020-07-17)

How Venus flytraps snap
Venus flytraps catch spiders and insects by snapping their trap leaves. This mechanism is activated when unsuspecting prey touch highly sensitive trigger hairs twice within 30 seconds. A study led by researchers at the University of Zurich has now shown that a single slow touch also triggers trap closure - probably to catch slow-moving larvae and snails. (2020-07-10)

Two lefties make a right -- if you are a one-in-a-million garden snail
A global campaign to help find a mate for a left-coiling snail called 'Jeremy' has enabled scientists to understand how mirror-image garden snails are formed. The findings, published today in the journal Biology Letters, show that the rare left-spiralling shell of some garden snails is usually a development accident, rather than an inherited condition. (2020-06-02)

Sea snail, human insulin hybrid could lead to better diabetes treatments
Nearly a century after insulin was discovered, an international team of researchers including University of Utah Health scientists report that they have developed the world's smallest, fully functional version of the hormone, one that combines the potency of human insulin with the fast-acting potential of a venom insulin produced by predatory cone snails. The finding, based on animal studies, could jumpstart the development of insulin treatments capable of improving the lives of those with diabetes. (2020-06-01)

Scientists take first census of Arctic freshwater molluscs in 130 years
Based on previously released data and their own investigations, researchers at the St Petersburg University Laboratory of Macroecology and Biogeography of Invertebrates have assessed the diversity of freshwater molluscs in the Circumpolar region of the World. (2020-05-25)

Food webs determine the fate of mercury pollution in the Colorado River, Grand Canyon
In the Grand Canyon reach of the Colorado River, two species play an outsized role in the fate of mercury in the aquatic ecosystem, and their numbers are altered by flood events. (2020-05-15)

Prehistoric sea creatures evolved pebble-shaped teeth to crush shellfish
Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles during the time of the dinosaurs, and scientists don't know much about their ancestry. But by CT-scanning the fossil of one of the first ichthyosaurs, scientists discovered pebble-shaped teeth hidden in its short snout. These strange teeth, probably used for crushing the shells of snails and clam-like bivalves, help illuminate the ways that early ichthyosaurs filled different roles in Triassic marine ecosystems. (2020-05-08)

HKUST researchers unlock genomic secrets of scaly-foot snail
Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have decoded for the first time the genome of Scaly-foot Snail, a rare snail inhabited in what scientists called 'the origin of life'- deep-sea hydrothermal vents characterized with impossible living condition. Unraveling the genome of this unique creature will not only shed light on how life evolved billions of years ago, but will also lay foundation for the discovery of potential remedies offered by these ancient creatures. (2020-04-28)

A rare snail living on wood is discovered in the Arctic ocean
Postgraduate student Ekaterina Krol and Senior Research Associate at the Department of Applied Ecology of St Petersburg University Ivan Nekhaev have found a marine snail from the subclass Neomphaliones in a collection from the Soviet Arctic expeditions of the 1930s. For over 70 years, it has been mistakenly placed in another family of marine molluscs. It is noteworthy that representatives of the subclass Neomphaliones have been found in such specific habitats as sunken wood and hydrothermal vents. (2020-04-22)

Tiny fly from Los Angeles has a taste for crushed invasive snails
As part of their project BioSCAN the scientists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (USA) have already discovered plenty of minute insects that are new to science, but they are still only guessing what the lifestyles of these species are. In their latest discovery, published in the open-access Biodiversity Data Journal, however, they found out that one particular species of tiny phorid fly has an unusual taste for smashed invasive snails. (2020-04-01)

Pesticides increase the risk of schistosomiasis, a tropical disease
Schistosomiasis is a severe infectious disease caused by parasitic worms. As an intermediate host, freshwater snails play a central role in the life cycle of the parasite. Researchers from UFZ in cooperation with the icipe (Kenya) succeeded in proving that snail populations in waterbodies contaminated with pesticides were significantly larger than in uncontaminated waterbodies. The pesticides used in agriculture may well be an outright driver for the risk of infection with schistosomiasis, the researchers warn. (2020-03-05)

Tadpoles break the tension with bubble-sucking
When it comes to the smallest of creatures, the hydrogen bonds that hold water molecules together to form 'surface tension' lend enough strength to support their mass: think of insects that skip across the surface of water. But what happens to small creatures that dwell below the surface of the water? For tadpoles, they do something called bubble-sucking. (2020-02-26)

Parasitic worms have armies, and produce more soldiers when needed
In a new study published Feb. 26, 2020 in Biology Letters, the research team demonstrated for the first time that the number of soldiers in a trematode colony depends on the local invasion threat, showing that such societies produce greater standing armies in areas of greater threat. This has big implications for understanding how animal societies determine their resource allocation. (2020-02-25)

Fossils help identify a lone 'bright spot' in a similar state to coral reefs before human impact
Many Caribbean coral reefs are heavily degraded, yet their pre-human, natural states are often assumed or estimated using space-for-time substitution approaches. (2020-02-20)

Global warming and extinction risk
How can fossils predict the consequences of climate change? A German research team from Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Museum of Natural History Berlin and the Alfred Wegener Institute compared data from fossil and marine organisms living today to predict which groups of animals are most at risk from climate change. They published their results in the journal Nature Climate Change*. (2020-02-10)

Can a tiny invasive snail help save Latin American coffee?
While conducting fieldwork in Puerto Rico's central mountainous region in 2016, University of Michigan ecologists noticed tiny trails of bright orange snail excrement on the undersurface of coffee leaves afflicted with coffee leaf rust, the crop's most economically important pest. (2020-01-23)

Ghost worms mostly unchanged since the age of dinosaurs
How can two species look almost exactly the same despite evolving separately for 140 million years? A new study sheds light on a group of sand-dwelling worm species that have hardly changed in appearance since the age of dinosaurs, making them one of the most extreme cases known of slow morphological evolution, also called stasis. (2020-01-06)

Gardens can be havens for soil animals in towns and cities
The fifth edition of the Dutch Soil Animal Days saw earthworms almost grab top spot thanks to the wet autumn weather. But at the end of the day, woodlice once again emerged as the most-observed soil animal in Dutch gardens. Nearly 1000 'citizen scientists' sent in their observations this year. And a surprisingly high number of people tried to do something in return for the vital services these soil creatures provide for us. (2019-12-12)

Genetic studies reveal how rat lungworm evolves
Rat lungworm is a parasitic disease, spread through contaminated food, which affects the brain and spinal cord. Now, researchers report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases that a detail analysis of the genetics of the rat lungworm parasite -- Angiostrongylus cantonensis -- reveal signatures of adaptive evolution that have let the parasite survive and may serve as future drug targets. (2019-11-21)

Soft skin-like robots you can put in your pocket
Stretchable skin-like robots that can be rolled up and put in your pocket have been developed by a University of Bristol team using a new way of embedding artificial muscles and electrical adhesion into soft materials. (2019-11-20)

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