Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pass Out the Cigars, and More Than You Maybe Wanted To Know About Snails.

I've been really, really busy the past few weeks, what with those danged offspring of mine requiring attention and those danged summer students requiring supervision, all that science to do, and the plotting workshop I took online...but I have to take  a breath here to show you some baby pictures. 
Yes, I am the proud foster mom of a herd of baby snails!  Umm...you see that semi-clean spot there that has a little black dot about 2/3 of the way down?  then look up to the right, there are more of those little black spots.  Those are baby snails.  I think.  The little black spots have moved since I took the picture, and I don't think they are floating frog poop. 

I got some new snails for Esther's new tank, and I brought them to work from home in her old tank. 

Esther's there, sitting on the rocks by the trunk of her bamboo tree.
Normally, we spend our day in the lab trying to get nerves to grow in dishes, but we took a break the other day to find out about snail sex--hey, it's Biology, it counts!  Here is what we learned:  Snails are hermaphroditic, which means they have both boy parts and girl parts.  But they can't get themselves pregnant.  They have to crash into another snail in order to get lucky, and snails move really slowly--as slow as snails--so the chances of meeting up with another snail are slim.  They have both kinds of parts because if they only had boy parts or girl parts, and the only snail they managed to hook up with was the same sex, there wouldn't be baby snails.  So they have both parts.  Convenient! 

Here is a link to stuff about snail sex.  I would say it is NSFW, but I think that only counts if you are a snail.  Here is some science geek trivia:  the "rock hard rod" of the animal kingdom is collectively referred to as an "intromittent organ", because they aren't all penises.  If it's the thing that puts sex cells into another animal, it's called an "intromittent organ".  Not all species have them.  Some, like most birds, just bump cloacas (the cloaca is the opening where pee and poop and eggs and sperm come out...the butt, without separate openings to the outside world). 

Anyway, the snail has a "love dart".  Seriously. Try that euphemism next time you are writing a love scene. Go to that snail sex website I linked to.  There are pictures.  Just be careful who is looking over your shoulder.  I don't want you to get in trouble for downloading porn at work. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Who knew snails had such a complicated love life? I leave here today knowing more than I did when I arrived. Thank you.

    And now I'm off to figure out how to work "love dart" into my next love scene. ;)