Spurned by Potential Mates, Jeremy the Lefty Snail Is Still Single

iStock
iStock

Romantics like to say there’s someone out there for everyone—and for a stretch of time, this adage seemed to hold true for Jeremy the lefty garden snail. Discovered in England last year, the mollusk made global headlines after scientists noted that its rare anatomy made sex nearly impossible for the snail. A public search yielded mates with similar parts, and researchers hoped that this meant that Jeremy was destined for a happy ending. But as The Washington Post reports, Jeremy’s prospective mate ended up preferring another slimy suitor.

Most garden snails have shells that curl right, and genitals on the right side of their heads. But thanks to a genetic mutation, Jeremy’s shell goes left, as do his reproductive parts. The problem? Snails mate by lining up their bodies and swapping fluids, meaning Jeremy needed a partner with the same rare body type to properly copulate. (A note for clarity: Snails are hermaphroditic, but scientists at first chose to refer to Jeremy using male pronouns. While they've recently reconsidered that decision, we're using male pronouns for consistency's sake.)

Scientists at England’s University of Nottingham—who reported in February 2016 that they had found the gene linked to snail-shell spiral shape—wanted to study Jeremy’s genes to see if they provided clues about body asymmetry in other animals. For this effort, they needed baby Jeremys, and so they sought to locate him a like-bodied paramour.

A global search helped scientists find two other lefty mollusks, named Lefty and Tomeu, with parts that mirrored Jeremy’s. Scientists hoped that one of the two would take a liking to their lonely charge. But in a cruel twist of fate, Lefty and Tomeu preferred each other to Jeremy, and ended up getting it on.

The new couple’s first batch of eggs hatched in April, fathered by Lefty and mothered by Tomeu, and two more are on the way— one of them fathered by Tomeu and mothered by Lefty. (Remember, they're hermaphroditic.) This was bad news for Jeremy but good news for the scientists, who were playing snail matchmaker so they could study lefty snail babies. Sure enough, Lefty and Tomeu’s offspring revealed new genetic insights: Each of the hatched snails has developed a right-twisting shell, proving that "two lefts clearly make a right," one of the researchers, Angus Davison, told the Post.

That said, Davison and his colleagues are still hoping that the aging Jeremy will also get a second shot at romance: Since Lefty has been returned to his collector owner, they’re thinking that Tomeu might use him as a rebound love interest.

Want to keep up with the drama? Follow the snail on Twitter.

[h/t The Washington Post]

14 Adorable, Vintage Photos of Rabbits

Chaloner Woods, Getty Images
Chaloner Woods, Getty Images

In honor of International Rabbit Day (held annually on the fourth Saturday of September), we've pulled photographic proof that the furry little mammals have always been appreciated by children and the adults who use a number of rabbit-related phrases and idioms more often than they probably realize.

1. DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

Nursery school children playing with their pet rabbit Bubbles; 1939.
David Parker, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nursery school children playing with their pet rabbit Bubbles, 1939.

2. DUST BUNNY

 A woman spinning Angora rabbit wool in her garden, 1930.
Fox Photos, Getty Images

A woman spinning Angora rabbit wool in her garden, 1930.

3. MAD AS A MARCH HARE

A young boy holds a pet rabbit, 1955.
Charles Ley, BIPs/Getty Images

A young boy holds a pet rabbit, 1955.

4. BUY THE RABBIT

A golfer makes a practice drive while his pet rabbit minds the balls; 1938.
Reg Speller, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A golfer makes a practice drive while his pet rabbit minds the balls, 1938.

5. HONEY BUNNY

School children petting rabbits; 1949.
Chaloner Woods, Getty Images

Schoolchildren petting rabbits, 1949.

6. HAREBRAINED IDEA

A woman took her Himalayan rabbit, Albrecht Durer, on a walk in Hyde Park, 1939.
Fox Photos, Getty Images

A woman took her Himalayan rabbit, Albrecht Durer, on a walk in Hyde Park, 1939.

7. CUDDLE BUNNY

A little girl petting a large rabbit, 1949.
Chaloner Woods, Getty Images

A little girl petting a large rabbit, 1949.

8. LUCKY RABBIT'S FOOT

Schoolgirls care for pet rabbits, 1932.
Fox Photos, Getty Images

Schoolgirls care for pet rabbits, 1932.

9. PULL A RABBIT OUT OF A HAT

A young magician and his rabbit, 1971.
George W. Hales, Fox Photos/Getty Images

A young magician and his rabbit, 1971.

10. SNOW BUNNY

A woman shows off her two pet angora rabbits, circa 1955.
George Pickow, Three Lions/Getty Images

A woman shows off her two pet angora rabbits, circa 1955. Angoras can be sheared to provide enough wool for two sweaters each year.

11. THE EASTER BUNNY

A little girl holds an Easter bunny on a leash, circa 1955.
George Pickow, Three Lions/Getty Images

A little girl holds an Easter bunny on a leash, circa 1955.

12. A RABBIT TRAIL

Three children hold a rabbit, 1935.
H. Allen, Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Three children hold a rabbit, 1935.

13. RABBIT FOOD

A boy feeds his pet rabbit a lettuce leaf, circa 1955.
George Pickow, Three Lions/Getty Images

A boy feeds his pet rabbit a lettuce leaf, circa 1955.

14. RABBITING ON

Actresses Fiona Fullerton and Clare Clifford posting some of the many letters sent to the House of Lords and parliamentary candidates to request support for World Day for Laboratory Animals which was instituted that year, 1979.
Central Press, Getty Images

Actresses Fiona Fullerton and Clare Clifford posting some of the many letters sent to the House of Lords and parliamentary candidates to request support for World Day for Laboratory Animals which was instituted that year, 1979.

Fossilized Fat Shows 550-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature May Have Been the World's First Animal

Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University
Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University

A bizarre sea creature whose fossils look like a cross between a leaf and a fingerprint may be Earth's oldest known animal, dating back 558 million years.

As New Scientist reports, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) made a fortunate find in a remote region of Russia: a Dickinsonia fossil with fat molecules still attached. These odd, oval-shaped creatures were soft-bodied, had rib structures running down their sides, and grew about 4.5 feet long. They were as “strange as life on another planet,” researchers wrote in the abstract of a new paper published in the journal Science.

Another variety of fossil
Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University

Although Dickinsonia fossils were first discovered in South Australia in 1946, researchers lacked the organic matter needed to classify this creature. "Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Edicaran biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution, or the earliest animals on Earth,” senior author Jochen Brocks, an associate professor at ANU, said in a statement.

With the discovery of cholesterol molecules—which are found in almost all animals, but not in other organisms like bacteria and amoebas—scientists can say that Dickinsonia were animals. The creatures swam the seas during the Ediacaran Period, 635 million to 542 million years ago. More complex organisms like mollusks, worms, and sponges didn’t emerge until 20 million years later.

The fossil with fat molecules was found on cliffs near the White Sea in an area of northwest Russia that was so remote that researchers had to take a helicopter to get there. Collecting the samples was a death-defying feat, too.

“I had to hang over the edge of a cliff on ropes and dig out huge blocks of sandstone, throw them down, wash the sandstone, and repeat this process until I found the fossils I was after,” lead author Ilya Bobrovskiy of ANU said. Considering that this find could change our understanding of Earth’s earliest life forms, it seems the risk was worth it.

[h/t New Scientist]

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