After all, snails do kinda race for life!
As it turns out, the biologists were not so wrong after all and you might say the group reached a conclusion – at least one good enough to shut up the philosopher. Snails from different populations – a rocky shore and a wave exposed area – do differ in behaviour.
So picture this now: four biologists, a veterinarian, an architect and a philosopher under a black curtain made out of black plastic bags (after all, predators like crabs are most active at night) for 5 days in a row, hauling with tanks and checking environmental parameters in a very wet lab to ensure the best possible bed and breakfast conditions for the animals. And then the most absurd part: tracking snails’ movements in tanks through quadrants made out of dental floss. Crazy, right?
So here’s the deal: snails do seem to pick up chemical cues, both from their crab predators and their fellow snails.
The architect had this theory that their reaction to crab and conspecific scent (resulting from the damaged tissues of snails that the crabs were fed with) might have to due with the design of their houses and whether they have the possibility to hide or not. Even though individuals from the two different populations seemed to quickly pick up the scent and start moving around like nuts in both experiments, the ones from the sheltered area seemed less active and overall crossed less lines over the same time period – probably because they’re more used to avoid predator interaction by finding a crack to squish in.
All things considered, this diverse and dynamic group had lots of fun looking into this topic together. So now two Germans, one Dutch, one Italian, a Spanish and a Portuguese promise to get together and do it again.
Thanks for following us and farewell!