Sunday Spinelessness – They’re alive!

By David Winter 26/02/2012

It would take the most dedicated reader of The Atavism to remember the empty snail shell I wrote about last year. I’ll admit even I’d mainly forgotten about myself, but this weekend I went on a little mini-field trip to collect a few samples for a colleague’s ongoing project. In planning that trip I did remember the slightly mysterious shells I found last winter, and so decided to head back and see if I could get a few more to send along an an expert who might be able to put a name to them. 

Sure enough, I found plenty more empty shells in different states of aging , but deep within the leaf litter I also uncovered one shell that was still playing house to an animal. I couldn’t quite be sure there was a healthy animal in the shell when I first picked it up, since the snail was already retracted inside. Thhe easiest way to encourage a sleeping snail out from its shell is to warm in up, so I clasped it in my palm for about a minute and, well, here’s the result:

Obviously, having taken the photographs I put this snail back under the nice moist leaf litter from which I’d taken it. Since then I’ve done a bit of research and I’m fairly confident that I’ve now identified this population down to genus level. But I’ve wrong about these things before (most recently by en entire superfamily…) so I’m still going to send the empty shells I collected from the same site to someone who has much more expertise than I do. I’ll keep you updated on just exactly what these creatures are.

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