Snails with situs inversus, the asymmetrical mirroring of parts inside the body, are extremely unlucky when it comes to sex.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

This is Jeremy. He's the world's loneliest snail. Unlike most garden snails, his shell spins counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. But this isn't just a cosmetic imperfection. This means that his entire anatomy is flipped, organs and all. And that's a problem, when it comes to snail sex.

Snails mate in a very peculiar fashion. First, their sexual organs aren't where you think. They're right by their face. Also, garden snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female parts.

Like most things with snails, mating is slow. First, there's a bit of courtship. Well, actually, a lot of courtship. Snails use their sense of taste and smell to get to know their potential partner for hours until, eventually, they try to stab each other with darts.

These calcium-composed "love darts" are a source of scientific debate. One hypothesis is that the dart decides whose sperm has a better chance of surviving. Since snails are hermaphroditic, both snails use both sex organs at the same time. The snail that successfully lands a love dart will wind up with a better chance of fertilizing the most eggs in its partner.

Once the whole "dart" situation is figured out, that's when the real fun begins. Roughly a half an hour after firing the love dart, the transfer of genetic material happens simultaneously, with both snails attached at the face, fertilizing one another, while potentially harboring stab wounds.

Which brings us back to Jeremy.

 

This video, "Snails with situs inversus, the asymmetrical mirroring of parts inside the body, are extremely unlucky when it comes to sex.", first appeared on seeker.com.

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