Terrifying Fact: Snails Have Thousands of Teeth

iStock.com/Yousef-Abuaisheh
iStock.com/Yousef-Abuaisheh

Snails are hardly the dull creatures they're often made out to be. They may be slow, but there are species of snails that can thrive in harsh environments, paralyze their prey, and have sex by harpooning their partners with love darts. If all that isn't enough to impress you, take a peek inside a snail's mouth if you ever get the opportunity: You'll find rows and rows of sharp chompers, making up thousands of snail teeth all together, according to NPR.

Snails are packing dozens of rows of pearly whites, with a single snail boasting anywhere between 2000 and 15,000 teeth between its jaws. Up close, the inside of a snail's mouth looks like it's lined with Velcro. The snail teeth hook inward, making it easy for the animal to latch onto its meal and slide it down its gullet.

Teeth on snail tongue,
L. P. van Ofwegen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

The sheer number of teeth it has isn't the only thing that makes a snail's smile terrifying. The mollusk cycles through teeth like a shark does, with new rows growing in the back of the mouth and gradually moving forward to bump out the worn teeth up front. Together these rows make something called a radula, a tongue-like pad the snail uses to snag food by extending it out of its mouth, xenomorph-style. Of all snail varieties, limpets—a small type of sea snail—may be the most dentally gifted: Their teeth are made from protein reinforced by fine mineral nanofibers called goethite, and according to one study, they're even stronger than spider silk, potentially making them the toughest biological material on Earth.

One source of comfort here is that snail teeth are also tiny: A single limpet tooth is slimmer than a human hair. That means a vicious snail on the loose likely can't do you much harm—unless maybe you're a piece of grass.

[h/t NPR]

No Venom, No Problem: This Spider Uses a Slingshot to Catch Prey

Courtesy of Sarah Han
Courtesy of Sarah Han

There are thousands of ways nature can kill, and spider species often come up with the most creative methods of execution. Hyptiotes cavatus, otherwise known as the triangle weaver spider, is one such example. Lacking venom, the spider manages to weaponize its silk, using it to hurl itself forward like a terrifying slingshot to trap its prey.

This unusual method was studied up close for a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the University of Akron in Ohio. They say it's the only known instance of an animal using an external device—its web—for power amplification.

Hyptiotes cavatus's technique is simple. After constructing a web, the spider takes one of the main strands and breaks it in half, pulling it taut by moving backwards. Then, it anchors itself to a spot with more webbing in the rear. When the spider releases that webbing, it surges forward, propelled by the sudden release of stored energy. In the slingshot analogy, the webbing is the strap and the spider is the projectile.

This jerking motion causes the web to oscillate, tangling the spider's prey further in silk. The spider can repeat this until the web has completely immobilized its prey, a low-risk entrapment that doesn’t require the spider to get too close and risk injury from larger victims.

The triangle weaver spider doesn’t have venom, and it needs to be proactive in attacking and stifling prey. Once a potential meal lands in its web, it’s able to clear distances much more quickly using this slingshot technique than if it crawled over. In the lab, scientists clocked the spider’s acceleration at 2535 feet per second squared.

Spiders are notoriously nimble and devious. Cebrennus rechenbergi, or the flic-flac spider, can do cartwheels to spin out of danger; Myrmarachne resemble ants and even wiggle their front legs like ant antennae. It helps them avoid predators, but if they see a meal, they’ll drop the act and pounce. With H. cavatus, it now appears they’re learning to use tools, too.

[h/t Live Science]

Plano, Texas Is Home to a Dog-Friendly Movie Theater That Serves Bottomless Wine or Whiskey

K9 Cinemas
K9 Cinemas

For dog owners in Plano, Texas, movie night with Fido no longer just means cuddling on the couch and browsing Netflix. The recently opened K9 Cinemas invites moviegoers—both human and canine—to watch classic films on the big screen. And the best part for the human members of this couple? Your $15 ticket includes bottomless wine or whiskey (or soft drinks if you're under 21).

The theater operates as a pop-up (or perhaps pup-up?) in a private event space near Custer Road and 15th Street in Plano. Snacks—both the pet and people kind—are available for $2 apiece. Dogs are limited to two per person, and just 25 human seats are sold per showing to leave room for the furry guests.

Pet owners are asked follow a few rules in order to take advantage of what the theater has to offer. Dogs must be up-to-date on all their shots, and owners can submit veterinary records online or bring a hard copy to the theater to verify their pooch's health status. Once inside, owners are responsible for taking their dog out for potty breaks and cleaning up after any accidents that happen (thankfully the floors are concrete and easy to wipe down).

While many of the movies shown are canine-themed—a recent screening of A Dog's Journey included branded bandanas with every ticket purchase—they also hold special events, like a Game of Thrones finale watch party (no word on how the puppers in attendance responded to Jon Snow finally acknowledging what a good boy Ghost is).

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