Jeremy the Lefty Snail Dies, but He Finally Found a Mate First

Rare snail made headlines when scientists put out a call for a match
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2017 5:03 PM CDT
Unlucky-in-Love Jeremy the Snail Dies, but Not Before Finding a Mate
Stock photo of a snail.   (Getty Images / DusanBartolovic)

Jeremy, the unlucky-in-love snail whose left-curling shell made it tricky for him to mate, has died—but yes, he found a partner first. Jeremy made headlines back in May, when scientists at the University of Nottingham put out a call for other left-curling snails who could act as potential mates for him. The trait is very rare, and Jeremy's "unusually-situated" genitalia made it impossible for the lefty to match up with a typical right-curling snail's sex organs, NPR reports. Two other lefties were found, but they ended up mating with each other instead. Fortunately, shortly before Jeremy was found dead Wednesday, he did end up procreating with one of the two. The pair mated three times and produced offspring, the scientists say, "ensuring that [Jeremy's] legacy will live on through continuing genetic studies into his rare mutation."

However, none of Jeremy's baby snails are left-coiling. "The fact that the babies developed right-coiling shells may be because the mother carries both the dominant and recessive versions of the genes that determine shell-coiling direction," the scientists say, explaining that in snails, "body asymmetry" is determined by only the mother's genes. "It is far more likely that left-coiling babies will be produced in the next generation or even the generation after that." Research will continue; scientists have since located four more left-curling snails in Spain. "Ultimately, we would like to know why these snails are so rare, but also how the left and right sides of the body are signalled at the molecular level, and whether a similar process is taking place during human development," one of the scientists says in a press release. Jeremy's shell will be preserved and used to teach students about his rare trait. (More snail stories.)

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