Thursday, 17 July 2008

Snail marbles


How are your snail identification skillz? Try these shells from Guano Pot cave, Chillagoe, Far North Queensland. Cave snails are usually dusted with red dirt but these are frosted with limestone.



The size and shape gave me an inkling of the species. The sculpture is visible on one of the specimens, which makes the task easier.


It's Melostrachia glomerans, a medium-sized (1 - 2 cm) camaenid that's relatively common around Chillagoe.



Cute, eh?

7 comments:

Dave Coulter said...

Very interesting...they look like fossils!

Snail said...

Don't they! And yet they're probably not very old at all. I'm not sure how long it takes to build up that sort of coating but I'll bet it's measured in months rather than centuries.

Mosura said...

Well I was about to ask a question but It's already been answered (thank you) so here's another one.

If you dissolved the limestone with acid would the underling periostracum (if it still exists) be revealed or would the shell dissolve too and ruin the whole thing?

Snail said...

There's not much in the way of periostracum left on these shells. It seems to wear away pretty quickly after death.

Just thinking on the run here ... I'd imagine the problem with using acid is that it would be hard to restrict its effects to the outer surface of the shell.

Duncan said...

Nice specimens Snail, I like 'em.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful snails, tehy do look a bit like fossils as a previous commentator said

Snail said...

I love 'em. They remind me a bit of Maltesers. (Not that I relate everything to food.)