Posts Tagged 'snails'

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You can, I think, get most of these either by shape or name. Ek, alm, ask, are so close, and hasselThe famous escargot, Helix pomatia. Also known as Roman, Burgundy, or simply edible snail. Or, when in the Rome of the north, Snäckor. Introduced, running rampant in a slick way.Yeah, stickmygga.Damn it! Found on a trail looking drowned: Talpa europaea, the European mole. “But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.” ~ Kenneth Grahame

Snails on Saturday

Cepaea nemoralisThe rain in the middle of the week bought the snails out in the Back 40. Half a dozen were visible from the door for the rest of the week. All are the big ones, Cepaea nemoralis, an introduced species. I’m sure there are others. These two were getting frisky.

More snails: the surprising abundance of snail species in my concrete backyard was one of the inspirations for this blog five years ago. I will be moving in May, to a deluxe apartment in the sky… well, the 4th floor, anyway, of a walk-up, in Sunset Park, and not deluxe by the plutocratic democracy-squelching standards of our second Gilded Age, but… Cepaea nemoralis…home is where the shell is.

Cepaea nemoralis

Cepaea nemoralisSlicking up the back door. Faster than you think.

Mollusks

Some of the highlights of our gastropod crawl in Central Park on Monday and Tuesday: Helisoma trivolvisHelisoma trivolvis, called the Ramshorn or Three-whorled Rams Horn, a fresh-water species fished out of the Meer. This specimen, the only one found, was 1/2″ or 14mm long.Oxychilus cellariusThe ground was quite dry, so we knew that land snails would be a challenge to find. They like moisture and the night; the sun is their enemy. But we did see numerous Oxychilus cellarius, the Common Cellar Snail, under damp wood. This is a species that favors human habitation, as its names suggest. Originally from Europe, these are quite small: the largest was 8mm, most were around 5mm. Note the translucent shell when the animal, a glistening blue-gray, is fully extended outside. Here’s another look at these hard-to-photograph critters:Oxychilus cellarius

Also clinging to the dampness of old pieces of wood were the slugs, hiding out from the day:Limax maximusLimax maximus, the Leopard slug, another European import. I’ve seen them up to four inches long, which goes towards another of their common names, the Giant Garden Slug. One fearless student had one wrapped around her finger. Ok, it was a latex-gloved finger, but still, she and everybody else thought it was pretty damn fascinating, tentacle eyes advancing, breathing hole visible.ArionAnother slug, Arion subfuscus, which are reputed to taste absolutely terrible. About an inch long here, but all the slugs, and snails, are remarkably stretchy creatures. Slugs can contact to a sixth of their full length; if I could do this I’d be down to about a foot high in my boots.

Gastropods, you will no doubt remember, are a class within the phylum Mollusca, which is named after the Latin word for the “soft things.” utamaroWhat? Well, this stylized octopus — another mollusk — meets Utamaro-inspired ukiyo/manga paste-up was not found in Central Park, but at the end of the day on Smith Street.

Spring Cleaning Snails

snailsThree different specimens of our old friend Cepaea nemoralis.snail2snail3snail4The snail’s “foot,” which gave rise to the name for this whole class of Molluscs, Gastropoda, which means simply stomach-foot (and is anatomically incorrect; the stomach is in the portion of the animal that is inside the shell).snail5Just a size comparison with some other snails found during this clean up. The mm ruler looks bent because the macro lens distorts at the edges, either that or the omphalos of the shells draws gravity in like a black hole.snail6Unknown species on the left;Discus rotundatus on the right.

Snug as a snail in a snail

I like the idea of one gastropod hanging out in the shell of another. You’ve seen this before: the Queen Conch shells I lugged home — not from the Caribbean, but from Dead Horse Bay’s eroding landfill — provide an excellent shelter for terrestrial snails. Cepaea nemoralis, the Brown-lipped snail. A new squatter, as an individual, but a familiar species.

Tiny snail

Responding to my last post, snail maven Aydin Örstan thought the third of the terrestrial snails harboring on the marine snail shell in my backyard was Vallonia costata. If so — and it looks like it to this mollusk amateur — that would make for five different species of snails found in my concrete slab of a Brooklyn backyard so far.

This snail is tiny, 2mm across, and posed here on FDR’s eye on a dime. My antique snail book, Shells from Cape Cod to Cape May with Special Reference to the New York City Area (Dover, 1971, reprinting a 1961 original) by Jacobson and Emerson, notes that this Eurasian species wasn’t reported in the NYC area until “recently” when some were found in the Bronx, in a colony subsequently destroyed by construction. Jacobson and Emerson inform me that the ridge-like axial ribs on this shell are also known as costae.The hollow at the center of the whorl is called an umbilicus.


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