Rare snail left on shelf after a love triangle

Angus Davison with snails Lefty and Jeremy
Angus Davison with Lefty and Jeremy
Author

19 May, 2017

A snail with a rare pattern on his shell found himself at the lonely end of a love triangle after two potential mates ended up mating with each other.

As if to rub it in poor Jeremy's face, Lefty and Tomeau have had 170 babies since they began producing eggs in April.

Professor Angus Davison, from the University of Nottingham, took Jeremy into his own care and launched a search previous year to find him a possible mate.

"The irony is, it's like that thing where maybe you introduce your best friend to a girl you're interested in", Dr Angus Davison, a biologist at the University of Nottingham who is also Jeremy's keeper, told Radio 4's Today programme. First, a snail enthusiast near Ipswich, U.K. came forward with her pet snail Lefty. He's a mirror image of other members of his species - and he wouldn't be able to mate with normal snails because their reproductive organs wouldn't line up. This might be because the "mother" carries both the dominant and recessive versions of the genes that determine shell-coiling direction, and only the mother's genes determine the direction of the twist of the shell. After all, Jeremy and the other snails have reached a growing following in British news and on social media. Body asymmetry in snails is inherited in a similar way to bird shell colour - only the mother's genes determine the direction of the twist of the shell, or the colour of a bird egg. (Snails are hermaphrodites, by the way.) Jeremy, by contrast, "didn't seem to have" the "energy" to join in this snail-sex extravaganza.

Unfortunately, for Jeremy, Phys.org reported that Lefty and Tomeu got together instead, leaving him in the dust.

Dr Davison said: "It is a long-term commitment".

But not all love stories have a happy ending, as Jeremy was about to find out. Each of the babies hatched so far have developed with right-coiling shells.

Jeremy now has a burgeoning following on his Twitter account (@leftysnail) and his story has even inspired one fan to have a tattoo of the "shellebrity" snail.

Miguel Angel Salom discovered Tomeu cleaning shells in Majorca while Lefty's owner Jade Sanchez Melton, Ipswich, heard about it through the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


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