New Hermaphrodite Snail Gets Unusual Name

Scientists in Taiwan decide to name it after marriage equality
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2014 9:16 AM CDT
New Hermaphrodite Snail Gets Unusual Name
A newly discovered snail has been named in support of same-sex marriage.   (Chih-Wei Huang)

Scientists in Taiwan snuck in a nod to gay marriage when they named a snail that was newly identified on the island. The mollusks, which are hermaphrodites and thus possess both male and female reproductive organs, have for years been mistaken for A. subchinensis, a closely related land snail discovered in 1884. So when scientists had the opportunity to rename it recently, reports the BBC, they opted for Aegista diversifamilia—a term that means a "diversity of family types"—in a nod to "the diversity of sex orientation in the animal kingdom," one researcher said in a statement.

"When we were preparing the manuscript, it was a period when Taiwan and many other countries and states were struggling for recognition of same-sex marriage rights," he added. It wasn't until scientists studied the genes of the snails found on both sides of Taiwan's Central Mountain Range that it was discovered they're not just distinct geographic populations with different features (the snails on the east side have larger, flatter shells and more closely resemble an altogether different species in Japan), but they are distinct species as well, reports the Washington Post. (Homo sapiens, meanwhile, have been roasting and feasting on snails for millennia.)

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