Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It's Easy to Be Fearless When You Have a Good Shell

Johan Ahlgren, a researcher at Lund University in Sweden, created a personality test using snails. He would gather a bunch of baby snails from different ponds and raise them until their adulthood. He gently prodded the snails' shells with tweezer to scare them and monitered how long it took for the snail to come back out of its shell. The results that came back was that bold snails came from under their shell in less than 10 seconds and shy shells came from under their shell in more than 15 seconds. He was interested in the trait "boldness" and found out that bold snails also tend to have rounder shells with wider openings and shy snails tend to have elongated shells with narrower openings. 

Could the shape of the snail's shell be related to the environment it grows up in? The snails used in Ahlgren's experiment were used in a lab, so it is assumed that the trait "boldness" could possibly be genetic. The scientists in the article defined this as "the ghost of predation past" because the predator on that snail has left its mark on the snail's DNA. So, those snails who inherit the "shy" trait cannot help but stay inside their shell for a long period of time because it is naturally within them. 

"Wow! I never would have thought a snail's shell had anything to do with their boldness. What if a shell that is bold turns shy because something tragic happens? Would their offspring inherit their shy trait or bold trait? I also wonder if the weight of a snails' shell has anything to do with how slow a snail moves. Or maybe snails are just slow in general and there is no snail that is quicker than the other. That is another topic to discuss, but this article really intrigues me."   

Click Here for more of the article!

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