Wednesday 2 April 2014

Conch Flippin' Easy

Image: divemasterking2000
Remember Neil the upside down snail's epic, heart-rending struggle to turn himself right-side up?

Turns out not all snails find flipping themselves over quite so arduous a process...

Video: taka3597


It's a conch from the Strombidae family. You can see the well-developed eyes peering out at the end of those long stalks, much like the picture above.

Obviously this one has a significantly more devilish shell...

Image: George Chernilevsky
But that's not at all unheard of among Strombids. Some are even known as Spider Conches or Spider Shells because of the leggy projections that jut from their shell in a most threatening manner.

Another thing about these particular conches is the peculiar way they get around.

Video: kenkaizu

They don't glide along slowly like other snails. Instead, they lunge forward in distinct, heaving leaps. They do it using a modified operculum. A lot of snails don't have an operculum, but the ones that do have a round, flat one attached to their foot. They use it to seal the entrance to their shell.

Image: Ria Tan
Looking at the camera and threatening it with a knife
The operculum in Strombids looks more like a dagger, and it's this they use to push forward off the floor. It looks like they also use it to flip themselves over!

Thankfully, there's nothing to suggest they ever use it to carve up prey. In fact, they're all herbivores and detritivores. Phew!


Crunchy said...

Those eyes! They look like cartoon characters!

TexWisGirl said...

patience is not my virtue - i'd never make it as a snail or conch.

Joseph JG said...

@Crunchy: I know! It's so unrealistic!

@TexWisGirl: Yeah, looks like a painfully slow existence!