Jeremy and Lefty
Jeremy (left) and Lefty are now taking the time to get to know each other.

A rare “leftie” snail has finally found love following a nationwide search to find him a mate.

Sinistral snail Jeremy was born with a rare genetic condition that means the spirals on his shell turn to the left, a major problem when it comes to reproduction, as his major organs are also on the opposite side to regular, right-spiralled snails.

Jade Sanchez Melton
Matchmaker and snail fan Jade Sanchez Melton with Lefty.

The rare genetic condition is being studied by Angus Davison, of The University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences, who launched a search to find another sinistral snail for Jeremy to mate with. Any offspring would give Prof Davison the chance to study any offspring for insights into body asymmetry in animals and humans.

Together at last

The search ended when Suffolk snail fan Jade Sanchez Melton came forward after finding a lefty snail last year when it was crawling up a tree.

After contacting Prof Davison, Jeremy was taken to Ipswich to meet his potential love interest, called Lefty. They will be observed for about two weeks to see if they mate.

Ms Melton said: “I am going to be fascinated to see whether breeding these two snails will result in more lefties or whether their offspring will feature the more common clockwise coiling shells.”

Citizen science

Signs of a pairing would include the presence of so-called “love darts”, sharp spikes made of calcium which snails stab into each other’s bodies during the process of mating.

However, if the date gets off to a slow start or if there is no chemistry, all is not lost, for another lefty snail has been discovered in Majorca, meaning this love story could span not only time, but continents.

Prof Davison added: “The citizen science has enabled us to begin on the first step toward understanding why these snails are so rare.”

 

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