Oh crab! - Do snails race for life?!

Four biologists, a veterinarian, an architect and a philosopher enter a bar in Sweden. The vet is in a good mood and decides to treat everyone with a to a Backfin Pale Ale. The architect, intrigued by the design of the bottle label, asks what crabs eat, she never really gave it any thought.
© Clay Pipe Brewing Company
One of the biologists replies they are omnivores, feeding on a variety of things from algae to periwinkles. This catches the attention of the vet, and he asks whether some people have periwinkles - whatever those might be - as pets, and whether they are easy to perform castrations on. The philosopher, obviously intoxicated, argues that periwinkles are nothing but a concept of mind and there are no physical entities corresponding to it.
The biologists have had enough, and decide to take the group for a field trip the next day, they heard about a variety of periwinkle populations in the bay of Tjärno, Sweden.



The biologists show them two populations of the so-called rough periwinkle, one on a sheltered rocky shore and one in a wave-exposed area. The architect is immediately struck by the fact that the design of the snails’ houses is completely different, and wonders about the architectural knowledge of the periwinkles.


The philosopher complains that if they only differ in housing, and not in behaviour, labelling them as different species is a sign of human laziness rather than scientific connaissance. One of the biologists is rattled, and counters the philosopher: “Actually, they might differ in behaviour!”. They decide to put this to the test, and after hauling with water tanks, catching and identifying periwinkles from two different environments, they are ready.


 They decide to collect shore crabs, and introduce this natural predator to the periwinkles in a few different ways, investigating possible differences in how the different types of periwinkle react. While restraining the veterinarian from performing surgery on the newly acquired shore crabs, they decide to introduce only the scent of the predatory crabs to certain periwinkles of both populations, while condemning others to a face to face experience. A third set of periwinkles is exposed to the ‘alarm-scent’ of conspecifics in danger.

It’s only one’s guess whether the two populations of periwinkles respond differently to these, admittedly, unpleasant experiences.

We promise to keep you up to date!


Legend: Nuri Max Steinmann and Madalena Gaspar (bottom), Tarek Bakkar (right) and Gabriel Serrano (second right) - the biologists; Merijn van den Bosch (middle up) -the philosopher, Beatrice Savinelli (middle up) -  the architect and Simon Schnebert (left) - the veterinary.

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