'Spiderman snail' found by scientists on shipwreck

New species of snail is found that acts like spiderman

The snail was found on a shipwreck (Stock image)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of snail which could play a part in restoring coral reefs with Spiderman-like powers.

The snails were discovered on a shipwreck in Florida. Rather than a coiled shell which you'd see on other snails, these ones have irregularly-shaped tubular shells, which they use to attach themselves onto hard surfaces.

Dubbed worm-snails, the adult ones stay in one spot for their entire lives, according to Phys Org. Despite not moving, the snails still have slime, but they use it to hunt.

Dr Rudiger Bieler, curator of Invertebrates at Chicago's Field Museum, said: "The snails have an extra pair of tentacles down near the base of their body, almost like little arms. These tentacles are what they use to shoot slime.

"They shoot out a mucus web, just like Spiderman, although in slow motion. Then, microorganisms get stuck in the web, and the snails use their mouths to pull the web back in and strain the food through barbs on their tongues called radulae in order to eat."

The species official name is Thylacodes vandyensis. The 'vandy' section of the name comes from the shipwreck they were found upon, The USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenburg, and nicknamed vandy by scuba divers.

The ship is the only place this species of snail has ever been found, but scientists believe this is not the area the species is originally from, as signs show they probably originated in the Indo-Pacific region.

Despite the snails actually being harmful to corals, they could actually help coral reefs survive, because they can live on places like this shipwreck instead of living corals.

Bieler said: "If we monitor their presence on the shipwrecks, we can keep tabs on them and potentially stop them from spreading to the living reefs."

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