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Friday, June 6, 2008

Crossing the Road, Very Slowly

Click image for an enlargement.

It's been a pretty dreary and damp week, although recently nothing as wet as last Monday. Moisture summons its own characteristic wildlife, including the mollusc mountaineers I've written of before. Those are modest sized snails; this fellow is nothing of the sort. On my walk today, I spotted this critter crossing a road on the southeast corner of Lignières. All-up the snail was about 8 cm long, and the shell was about 4 cm on the longest axis. I didn't have anything with me to include in the picture to provide a sense of scale, but trust me: this was a big one. I think this is a Roman snail (Helix pomatia), one of the species commonly farmed for food. If I've misidentified it, I'm sure one of the multitude of snail experts who frequent this chronicle will correct me and I'll post an update posthaste.

Note the growth rings in the shell, like the annual tree rings which permit dendrochronology. There are clearly two unusual periods visible here: one near the top of the shell and one at the left, from the most recent growth. Both are darker than the rest of the shell and have hairy excrescences around the ring boundaries. I have no idea what these signify.

Maybe I'll pass by there again in a week or so to see if it's made it to the other side by then.

Posted at June 6, 2008 20:19