Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Molluscan Love Dart

In my search for everything about snails I came across this fascinating webpage. There are pictures. Apparently after a courtship of anything up to six hours the romantic snail initiates mating by sending out a love dart. These are calcified horns which punctuate the skin of its partner. Mutual mating then ensues (as you might recall from a previous blog snails and slugs are hermaphrodite and sometimes self-fertilise). Love darts are not produced by virgin snails. They have to learn to produce them by mating. The love dart produces a chemical which stops sperm being digested so they are a very good idea - for a snail.

However, what I found particularly provocative about this webpage is the phrase "The snail is native to Europe, where it may have picked up its curious courtship and mating rituals." No chance of it picking up this sort of thing in its adopted residence of California then.

This is just crying out for a 101 word metaphorical short story but unfortunately I am going to have to quell my creative urges and fill a tax form in instead. Maybe later.


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