P-2 and Year 3 to 6 students proved to be budding malacologists (scientists who study snails) when the Snail Whisperers visited their school as part of the Future Makers program which is outsourced from Queensland Museum.
Some students brought in land snails from their properties and were able to learn both the scientific and common names of these species.
The students were particularly fascinated with the emerald green snails from Manus Island who survive with this bright green colour as they live in the tops of palm trees on the island. The emerald green snail or Manus green tree snail, scientific name Papustyla pulcherrima, is a species of large, air-breathing tree-snail. This snail is now a protected species internationally.
As an extension to the World Science Festival, the Snail Whisperers visited 5 local schools to work directly with students on land snails, part of their life science studies covering topics such as animal features, types of snails, adaptations to the environment, conservation and many other relevant STEM learnings. Enthusiast groups of P-2 and 3-6 students at Kogan State School had lots of fun learning about our native land snails and meeting them as they crawled on their hands.
Most were shocked to know that in many Asian countries, a snail facial with snails crawling across your face, was considered an expensive beauty treatment. Snail slime has been known to have healing properties for nearly 3000 years.
Chinchilla lived up to its chilly name as it hosted a number of scientists for a 2 day presentation – a free community day event is on Sunday 6 June and a student day for schools on Monday 7 June. All were immersed in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at this exciting event returning to Chinchilla from 2020. Sessions included a Science Extravaganza Showcase that explored cool science careers and mind-blowing science experiments, and City Of Science where all who attended experienced close-up to exciting science activities and fascinating displays.
The Snail Whisperers were one such display. They enjoyed chatting with many members of the public and lots of school children during this time and teaching them about the wonders of land snails. Did you know our land snails have more than 20 000 teeth?
A group of highly enthusiastic young scientists worked with the Snail Whisperers to learn about land snails particularly how they adapt to the environment. Here they are enjoying science learning. Congratulations to the teachers who showed just how science learning can be enhanced by their own enthusiasm and preparation.
By the end of the survey in this threatened ecological community above 800m at Mt Kaputar, 50km from Narrabri, NSW, many specimens of land snail including several tiny charopid species were found to be alive and well. The regeneration since the massive bushfires earlier in the year was quite amazing and many different wildflowers were flourishing.
The Mt Kaputar red slug stayed in hiding for the first few days but Steph Clark managed to find one in the litter at the base of a snow gum. Later in the week, after some rain, the red slug was seen crawling of rocks in large numbers (Steph and Adam) counted more than 70 on a moist and foggy morning.
Did you know that a Nobel Prize scientist, Eric Kandel, an American neuropsychiatrist who studied how memory works and how memory is stored in neurons, used a Mollusc similar to a snail, a sea slug [we call them sea hares] Aplysia californica, to study how neurons worked. He used it because he decided that this was the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning.
Scientists at the University of California have now successfully transferred memory between snails. Click here to find more
February saw the World Science Festival go to Chinchilla. It is not surprising that many children and adults enjoyed seeing and learning about our native land snails. The highlight was getting to hold a snail and our snails, who much prefer their nocturnal habitats, performed admirably and allowed many students (and their teachers and parents…the big kids) to enjoy these fascinating creatures.
Lots of fun was had at Kogan State School, a small school about 30km from Chinchilla where we worked with all the classes including prep and also Jandowee State School with Prep, Year 5,6,7 and 8. Congratulations to all the students who showed such interest and asked such good, in-depth questions.
We are now grandparents to about 50 baby snails which hatched in our terrariums this week. These are the Camaenid SQ17 (undescribed species) from the Hummock near Bundaberg. We hope to raise some to adulthood in about 2 years and this should be an interesting exercise. The shell they have since hatching from the egg will form the protoconch and the shell they will now grow (teleoconch) will be a different pattern and eventually have stripes like the larger adult snails that can be seen here.
The most interesting part of this story is that when they were collected, the Snail Whisperer found an old abandoned suitcase in the forest. And it was full of these snails!. So they are actually suitcase babies.
Click here to check out this amazing time lapse photography of the red slug at Mt Kaputar.
In 2019 artist Anna Glynn & biologist Peter Dalmazzo captured time-lapse video of the giant pink slug from their second research stay within the Snail and Slug Threatened Ecological Community atop Mt Kaputar, NSW, as part of the Art of the Threatened Species Project.