Friday, February 4, 2011

Do the pedal wave

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications


Seattle sports fans are well known for doing the wave, but did you know that snails also perform their own version?

Here's a short video clip of our Partula snails doing what’s called the pedal wave:



To get from place to place, snails first lay down a trail of mucus. Then they essentially surf over a trail of their slime. But that's only half of the story. Snails also have two types of muscles working in conjunction to propel them forward. A set of light and dark colored bands of muscle fibers relax and contract, in a process called a pedal wave. These muscles pull the snail forward while the other fibers push from behind.

The same process works with most gastropod species, i.e., snails, a Latin term meaning "stomach-foot" that accurately sums up their anatomical structure!

And that super tiny snail in the clip? That’s a baby Partula, that starts out life little more than the size of the head of a pin, and is seen here at about a third of the size of a Tic Tac.

Though small, these snails are a big hope for a species that was once found in Tahiti but has now gone extinct in the wild. Woodland Park Zoo is working cooperatively with five others zoos to breed Partula with the hope of eventually reintroducing them to their Tahitian homeland and restoring their wiped out population.

Video: edited by Kirsten Pisto, produced by Ryan Hawk, cameo by Ric Brewer.

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