Watch a Terrified Snail Hop Away From Danger

By Esther Inglis-Arkell on at

This poor snail hops desperately away from danger when approached by a predator, unlike its brethren, who flee slowly in quiet desperation. We should study their technique, because they may one day be a major food source.

This is the humpbacked conch snail (Gibberulus gibberulus gibbosus) trying hard to get away from its main predator, the cone snail. Even the smell of the cone snail will get these babies jumping, which they manage by rapidly extending their pseudo-foot.

Researchers have been trying to gauge what the inhabitants of the ocean will do when both carbon dioxide levels and temperatures rise. The humpbacked conch snail got chosen as a model organism because when it jumps, its oxygen intake goes way up. That oxygen intake can be measured, which gave researchers a way to judge how extreme conditions affect the animal’s ability to power through heat.

The researchers were surprised to find that raising the amount of carbon dioxide in the water did nothing to affect the snails “respiratory performance”. The snail was also able to keep hopping along at 38°C, a temperature at which other animals would be using most of their energy to keep from becoming over-heated. The snail, they conclude, has “aerobic capacity in excess of current and future needs”.

And since it would be adapted to living in a hot, carbon-soaked ocean, the humpbacked conch snail would probably be one of the few things we could eat after a mass extinction. Other ocean-going species probably won’t be so lucky. So unless the video above looks appetising, we should work on keeping the planet cool. [Source: Will jumping snails prevail? Influence of near-future CO2, temperature and hypoxia on respiratory performance in the tropical conch Gibberulus gibberulus gibbosus]

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Want more updates from Gizmodo UK? Make sure to check out our @GizmodoUK Twitter feed, and our Facebook page.