Touch triggers a change of gender from male to female snail
(Mirror Daily, United States) – There is still much we don’t know about animal gender and sexual habits and researchers have recently found that snails touch and change sex.
The animal world is full of surprises. Either we discover new animals every day or we discover something new about the animals we already know. Of course, probably many of us don’t know much about snails. Some of us are actually afraid of them or consider them disgusting, others are simply not interested in their existence and others could find them cute.
One important thing you should know about snails if you are at least a bit interested in them is that they are all born males. The particular species we are talking about is the Crepidula marginalis commonly known as slipper limpets. As time goes by and the snails develop or grow up they can switch their sex.
They do this mostly because they need more energy to produce eggs than they need to produce sperm, which means a larger snail would make a great female, while smaller snails will keep on being males.
Although it was not quite clear how they do this, how they go from being a male to being a female, a recent study showed that physical contact is one of the key processes that contribute to the transition.
It seems that snails that touch each other are more likely to change sex than the ones that don’t. For example, two snails that are larger and live together having physical contact will change sooner than two snails which don’t touch. Of course, from the two, only one will become a female, forming a couple with the other one.
You might wonder how the change happens exactly. It seems that the male snails have large penises which come out from the side of their head and can grow long enough to embrace the whole body of the female snail. When the transition takes place, the penis shrinks while female organs develop.
The study, which had couples of snails as participants, some that touched some that didn’t, showed touch is probably the most important factor in a male snail becoming a female snail.
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