Rare 'lefty' snail dies, but leaves legacy

An evolutionary geneticist had appealed to the public to find Jeremy the "lefty" snail a mate, to find out if its left-coiled shell was inherited or just a developmental mishap.
An evolutionary geneticist had appealed to the public to find Jeremy the "lefty" snail a mate, to find out if its left-coiled shell was inherited or just a developmental mishap.PHOTO: ANGUS DAVISON

NEW YORK • Let's have a moment of silence for Jeremy, the "lefty" brown garden snail, which most probably died of old age in a British research laboratory.

Discovered in a compost heap in London, the rare snail gained international fame for a mutation that caused its shell to coil left instead of right.

Dr Angus Davison, an evolutionary geneticist who studies snails at the University of Nottingham in Britain, had wanted to know if its left-coiled shell was inherited or just a developmental mishap, and for that he needed offspring. He appealed to the public to find Jeremy a mate and, shortly before its death, one was found.

Thanks to the attention Jeremy received, the search for a mate ended in the discovery of six more "lefty" snails. Dr Davison is now leaning towards a genetic cause for the "lefty" disposition as some found close to one another could be siblings, but confirmation will lie in future generations of Jeremy's offspring.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Rare 'lefty' snail dies, but leaves legacy'. Print Edition | Subscribe