A ‘one-in-a-million’ snail with genitals on the opposite side of his body continues his quest to find a partner after two suitors presented to him mated with each other.
The snail, called Jeremy by scientists at the University of Nottingham, was presented with two other snails which also had the same traits following a public appeal.
Dr Angus Davison at the University of Nottingham wanted to pair the snails to find out whether their genetics could offer an insight into the body asymmetry in other animals, including humans.
Tragically for Jeremy, the two other snails, called Lefty and Tomeu, preferred to mate with each other and have now produced three clutches of eggs between them.
The molluscs are different because their shells spiral in an anti-clockwise direction – common species of snails have shells spiralling clockwise.
Dr. Davison said: “As there has so far been no sign of Jeremy mating with either Lefty or Tomeu, it underlines how incredibly lucky we were to find not just one, but two of these amazingly rare snails following our public appeal.
“Despite not yet being able to mate our original, sinistral snail Jeremy, we have still been able to answer the question of which direction the shells would coil in offspring from two of these rare left-coiling variants.
“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 determines shell-coilling direction.
“It is far more likely that we will get to see left-coiling babies produced in the next generation or even the generation after that.”
Miguel Angel Salom discovered Tomeu cleaning shells in Majorca while Lefty’s owner Jade Sanchez Melton, Ipswich, heard about it through the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
The first batch of eggs to hatch were ‘fathered’ by Lefty and laid by Tomeu in April.
Snails are hermaphrodites so they can fulfil the role of either the mother or the father.
Two more batches of eggs – another laid by Tomeu and one laid by Lefty and fathered by Tomeu, will soon be hatching.
Jeremy may still have a chance however, as Lefty has now returned to Ipswich and Dr Davison is hoping that Jeremy will be encouraged to mate with Tomeu.
Dr Davison hopes that in the long term, these crosses may be used to map and find the genes that determine variation in left-right asymmetry.