A new biology study points out that we don’t know everything about snails. Sea snails have a touch-to-change-sex trigger, meaning that a snail can change its sex simply by touching another snail.
In the past, many sea critters have been seen changing their sex while reaching a certain level of sexual maturity. This sex-change intervention would have occurred if the creatures received certain cues from their environment. So, it is highly likely than when a male snail reaches a certain age, it will be able to transform into a female.
But it would seem that the transformation process was missing something. A couple of researchers at Smithsonian wanted to find out what prompts these changes in sea snail. According to their result, male slipper snails are able to become females simply by touching another male of his species.
The study has been conducted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and its conclusion has granted the research some more insight into the slipper snail’s social behavior. The little sea critter, known as Crepidula marginalis or simply the slipper snail, is a species of small water snails which live in the intertidal areas, shallow regions situated along the shore.
Crepidula marginalis feeds on plankton and other small particles found in the waters. The snail received the name of slipper snail due to the fact that its shell has an out groove in the form of a tiny shelf.
Slipper snails are often seen in large clusters, but scientists have been able to observe even smaller packs, consisting of a large female and two smaller male snails. Also, it would seem that the male snails are much sluggish than the female due to the fact that the female has to carry both of them of her shell.
The Smithsonian experiment has concluded that sea snails have a touch-to-change-sex trigger, which can be clearly observed in male snails. During this experiment, the scientists were able to isolate several slipper snails.
In one thank, the researcher would put the two snails together, leaving them room in order to touch each other. In an adjoining water thank they would put two more snails, only this time they would place a permeable barrier between them, restraining them from contact, but letting cue-infused water to pass through the thin barrier.
The team of marine biologist have observed that there was no change in terms of gender in the case of the two snails separated by the barrier. But, as for the two slipper snails who were allowed to touch, the scientists have uncovered something astonishing.
After having physical contact, the larger male snail began to change its gender. The smaller snail will also change its sex, although the process will be lengthier.