Friday, 20 September 2013

Snail Gets Spots to Fool Predators

A freshwater snail common in ponds across Europe can adjust its pigmentation in response to certain environmental stressors, new research suggests.

Radix balthica, spanning less than a half-inch (0.8 centimeters) in length, sports dark body pigmentation that is visible through its translucent yellow shell. Individuals vary in skin pattern, with some speckled with dark spots and others covered in a more uniformly dark pattern.

Researchers have thought the snail's variable coloring was genetically predetermined, and didn't change during the snail's life. But new research from a team at Lund University in Sweden has shown that the presence of predators and the intensity of damaging UV radiation from the sun do, indeed, influence their color coats.

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