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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2015

Slugs and Snails: Slimy, but Amazing

Snails and slugs areicky and slimy. In fact, snails use 30% of their energy just to make slime. But in spite of all that slippery goo that helps them get around, slugs can only move at about 40 yards per hour (yph). Garden snails are even slower—moving at a whopping one yph. But just because they are slimy and slow, it does not mean that God did not make them awesome.

The largest snail is the Giant African Land Snail, which can grow to be 12 inches and weigh two pounds. The prettiest slugaward likely goes to the Triboniophorus aff. Graeffei—a species of slug recently discovered on a mountain in Australia. This slug is fluorescent, hot pink! (National Museum Wales) 2015 CCC-by sa-3.0
The weirdest slug award probably goes to the ghost slug—a flesh-eating slug that is nocturnal, which is handy since it has no eyes. It makes up for not having eyes with its blade-like teeth. It sucks up earthworms like spaghetti. (Hahmann) 2015 CC-by sa-3.0
The creepiest snailaward definitely should go to “zombie” snails. When snail parasites are eaten by a snail, the parasites take over the snail tentacles and brain, forcing the snail to do their bidding. The snail tentacles become engorged with parasites, making the tentacles look like maggots to birds. Birds love maggots. So they eat the snails, and the parasites multiply within the birds’ stomachs. The parasites then come out in the bird feces and are eaten by other snails—starting the process over again.

The coolest snail award belongs to the Killer Cone Snail—an underwater snail that can grow to be six inches long. This snail is pretty much an underwater tank—complete with armor (its shell) and cannon. Instead of a radar, it has a syphon it uses to detect nearby fish. Once it detects one, it uses a special tube, like a cannon, that is equipped with a specially designed harpoon. The harpoon launches at the fish and paralyzes it with a special chemical in the harpoon. There is no known anti-venom to counter the effects of the chemical. Then it becomes all too easy for the Cone Snail to pull the whole fish into its mouth to eat.


Even in studying something as icky and seemingly simple as slugs and snails, we can learn about how awesome and powerful our God is. His creation is amazingly complex, diverse, and functional—things that demand a Designer.

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