Rare snail left alone as potential mate breeds with another

Angus Davison with snails Lefty and Jeremy

Angus Davison with snails Lefty and Jeremy

"In essence, the "lefty" snail is a mirror image of its other shell-dwelling friends", wrote the scientists at the time in a press release.

University of Nottingham photo of snails Lefty (right) and Jeremy (left).

A garden snail with a rare genetic condition can't mate with normal snails; scientists launch an global search for a mate; the snail becomes a media sensation; and miraculously not one but two possible mates are found.

His shell swirls counterclockwise and his sex organs are on the left side of his head.

Dubbed a "one-in-a-million find", scientists at the University of Nottingham launched a Twitter campaign previous year to find suitors to try to discover more about Jeremy's genetics.

Lefty, Tomeu and Jeremy's shells spiral in an anti-clockwise direction - which means they are unable to mate with snails whose shells spiral the opposite way.

Jeremy remains in the lab in Nottingham with Tomeu.

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But Angus Davison, from the university, told Radio 4's Today programme: "We turned up not one but two very rare snails, one from Ipswich and one from Majorca".

But the course of true love did not run smooth, and Jeremy's potential mates, named Lefty and Tomeu, preferred each other to their intended match.

Snails are able to reproduce on their own without a mate, but researchers said an offspring from two "lefty" snails would be more valuable for studies.

This first batch of eggs to hatch were "fathered" by Lefty and laid by Tomeu in April - snails are hermaphrodites so can fulfil the role of either mother or father.

So who knows - Jeremy may yet be lucky in love.

But as the newborns developed it became quickly apparent that in the case of the next generation of these rare creatures two lefts clearly make a right - every single one of the babies has developed with the less rare form of right-coiling, or dextral, shells.

"It is far more likely that we will get to see left-coiling babies produced in the next generation or even the generation after that".

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