Shell-shocked snail ends up in love triangle

Jay Anderson
May 19, 2017

They mate facing each other and sliding side by side, so when "left" and "right-handed" snails meet they can not mate because their sex organs are on the wrong side.

The pair began to produce eggs in April and have already had 170 babies, although none of the offspring so far has shared the left-swirls of their parents.

Snails mate face-to-face, sliding past each other on the right hand side so their genitalia can meet.

Jeremy is nothing like your ordinary garden snail, and has more in common with the X-Men heroes than the average gastropod.

Jeremy remains in the Nottingham laboratory while the search for a partner for him crawls on.

Scientists aren't sure exactly how rare this condition is.

A #snaillove campaign was launched on Twitter by Angus Davison, from Nottingham University, to find fellow gastropods for Jeremy - a "one in a million" - to mate with in the hope of discovering more about the creature's genetics.

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That rarity made it particularly surprising to find two potential suitors for Jeremy after the scientists launched the worldwide search.

Then a snail farmer from the Spanish island of Majorca offered up Tomeu, another left-coiling snail. They are a mirror image of how other snails appear.

The BBC reported in November that Jeremy had finally found love after an enthusiast who heard the appeal introduced him to Lefty from Suffolk in eastern England, who has a similarly-shaped shell.

Researchers say the data from offspring of two lefty snails would also be far more valuable for genetic studies.

But the course of true love did not run smooth, and Jeremy's potential mates, named Lefty and Tomeu, preferred each other to their intended match.

"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".

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