Feeds

Hitchhiking snails scoffed, pooped out alive by birds

Gastro-pod birdshit paratroopers conquer new territories

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Scientists have discovered that certain species of Japanese snail can not only survive being eaten and then excreted by birds, they actually benefit from the process in many cases by finding themselves deposited in new uncropped habitats.

The revelations were uncovered by scientifically feeding Japanese white-eye or mejiro birds with the tiny land snail Tornatellides boeningi in lab tests. A surprisingly high proportion of the snails, some 15 per cent, survived the process, solving a knotty conundrum which has left the Japanese snail-boffinry community baffled until now.

"Biogeography of wingless terrestrial invertebrates, in particular snails, is often faced with mysterious long distance dispersal patterns that can only be explained by hand waving arguments involving birds' feet or guts or cyclones," Shinichiro Wada, one of the investigating experts, tells the BBC.

Now it appears that the hardy gastropods are in fact travelling inside the birds rather than on them: the elite few who survive the avian gastric process being deposited – perhaps as part of a beneficial rain of fertiliser from high altitude – in pastures new.

According to Wada, one of the snails in the study actually gave birth shortly after experiencing the perils of bird-borne transit. It's thought that just one small bird can carry a large number of the tiny 2.5mm snails at once, permitting a fair few to arrive alive at their destination.

Full details of the study are published in the Journal of Biogeography. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.