Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New research shows snails aren’t as slow as we think

On the surface snails don’t come across as the brightest in the animal kingdom, but new research at the University of Sunderland suggests they are not as slow as they look.

The university’s Professor Mark Davies has been studying snails for the past ten years and his latest research has confirmed something he has believed for quite some time.

He and masters student Janine Blackwell have been studying marine snails off the coast of South Tyneside in the belief that they use each other’s mucus trails in order to save vital energy – and they seem to be right.

Snails use a third of their energy creating mucus trails in order to move around, mostly to find food and a partner.

... more about:
»Energy »mucus

Prof Davies has found that by using existing trails these particular snails, and more than likely all snails, have to create only a fraction of the mucus needed to make a new trail.

One of the obvious benefits is that snails living in environments where food is scarce may be able to survive as they do not need as much energy to create trails.

While biologists have long believed that this could be the case, this is the first time it has been proven.

His findings will appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, which comes out tomorrow (Wednesday, February 28).

Prof Davies and Ms Balckwell spent several months researching the snails and measuring the thickness of their trails.

He said: “Snails expend a lot of energy, probably one third, creating mucus. This process is very taxing indeed – much more so than walking, swimming or flying.

“The fact that they can make savings has a knock on effect in as much as they have more energy to do other things like reproduce.

“It took a long time to measure the mucus and it was very difficult, but after several unsuccessful attempts we managed it.

“What we found was that these trails have a convex cross section. Once a second snail went down the trail we expected the trail to be twice as thick but it wasn’t – it was a lot less.

“If it was a fairly new trail the snails didn’t have to lay much mucus, but if it was a weathered trail then they had to lay more.

“How it knows we have no idea but the animal seems to be recreating the profile of the trail as originally laid. However, the energy it saves is quite dramatic.

“They don’t follow trails all the time as they would all be following each other. We don’t know yet how far they are following them.

“While we researched marine snails, the chances are that all species of snails will follow trails because of the energy they will save.

“This is a very good start to finding out more about the lives of snails.”

Tony Kerr | alfa
Further information:

Further reports about: Energy mucus

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>