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.
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
Mass spectrometry sheds new light on thallium poisoning cold case
14.12.2018 | University of Maryland
Protein involved in nematode stress response identified
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy