The fascination of snails

The Snail Whisperers gave a presentation on Australian land snails to folk at the Paddington Community Care Centre. Featuring a  powerpoint presentation, trays of land shells and terraria of live snails, the event showcased Australia’s native land snail fauna. The people present were enamoured by the diversity of the fauna and the live snails that performed quite admirably considering their previous outing was the World Science Festival Gladstone and ten school presentations.

An orange form of red-triangle slug has been spotted at New England NP

Another form for of the red triangle slug Triboniophorus graeffei has been sighted at the New England National Park.This slug was spotted along the Lyrebird Walk in the last couple of weeks. The orange body and solid red triangle are different from the red form at Mt Kaputar and the yellow form at Cunningham’s Gap.

Thank you to Adam Fawcett, Senior Project Officer for the Northern Inland Branch of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for the images.

Although only one species is recognised for eastern Australia, it is probable that revisionary studies will reveal additional species.

Brigalow State Schools students- budding malacologists

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.

Papustyla pulcherrima, samples from the collections of Queensland Museum.

Kogan State School students enjoy learning about land snails

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.

The World Science Festival 2021 comes to Chinchilla

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?

The Mt Kaputar Red Slug is alive and well

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.

Mt Kaputar Red Slug. Images A and B: Alan and Helen Purch. Image C: Steph Clark

Snail memory is the key to unlocking our future

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