Friday, 18 November 2016

Shell-swinging snails knock out predators

Date:November 16, 2016
Source:Hokkaido University

Researchers in Japan and Russia have found some snail species that counterattack predators by swinging their shells, suggesting the importance of predator-prey interactions in animal evolution.

Until now, snails were thought to protectively withdraw into their shells when attacked. However, an international research team has found a pair of snail species that use their shells like a club to hit predators and knock them over.

Evolutionary scientists have been questioning how predator-prey interactions affect the evolution of the prey. However, they are yet to resolve whether this interaction induces the diversification of the prey species and its morphological features and behaviours, and if so, why?

Researchers from Japan's Hokkaido University and Tohoku University collaborated with colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences to closely study snail species from the genus Karaftohelix in both countries. They observed each species' defensive behaviours against their predator, the carabid beetle, and conducted shell measurements and species comparisons. The team used DNA sequencing to analyse how closely related the species were to each other.

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