WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A strange-looking snail issuing colored lights from its body was spotted by a hiker crawling across Taiwan’s Changhua County.
- According to biologists, the snail was rendered a ‘zombie’ after its motor neurons were attacked by a parasitic flatworm known as green-banded broodsac.
- The parasite usually uses snails to spread by invading the snail’s eye horns where it throbs to mimic a caterpillar.
A peculiar snail emitting green and orange-colored horns has been found in Taiwan.
A local hiker was shocked to see the shelled gastropod crawling across a Changhua County hillside earlier this month.
According to tourist Lin Ruian, he immediately caught sight of the snail because it looked like it had ‘flashing lights’ turned on in its body.
‘The snail looked like it had multicolored neon lights inside,’ said Mr Ruian who added that the sight looked so strange but when he poked the creature, it just rolled over.
Biologists said that the snail had actually turned into a ‘zombie’ after a parasitic flatworm called green-banded broodsac has taken hold of its motor neurons and body.
Also known as leucochloridium paradoxum, the parasite typically inhabits snails as hosts for transmission. It attacks the snail’s eye stalks and generates a bright and pulsing pattern in order to resemble a caterpillar.
The end goal for the parasite is to attract hunting birds and it then forces the snail to go out into the open so birds can spot the snail.
The parasite’s goal is to lure hunting birds while forcing the snail to go out for it to be spotted by the birds. When the birds eat the snail, the parasite can then reproduce in the intestinal tract of the bird. Eventually, its offspring will spread through the bird’s feces thus repeating the cycle.
This process of imitating another living animal is technically termed aggressive mimicry.
The parasite was also discovered to be breed-specific, mostly targeting amber snails which are also known as Succinea. They are called such because snails in this genus are translucent and similar to amber in appearance. Mostly found in water, they thrive best in ponds and marshes, which are also places where the parasites are often found.
Source: Daily Mail