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The fantastic armor of a wonder snail
Date:1/19/2010

t the shell's properties, researchers performed experiments that simulated generic predatory attacks using both computer models and indentation testing. The indentation testing involved hitting the top of shells with the sharp tip of a probe to measure the shell's hardness and stiffness.

A number of potential predators were found in the same region as the scaly-foot gastropod. One predator, the cone snail, uses a harpoon-like tooth to attempt penetration of before injecting it with paralyzing venom. Additionally, sea-faring crabs are known to grab gastropods within their claws and attempt to puncture their shells and/or squeeze them sometimes for days until the mollusks' shells break.

The testing led to a "realization that each layer of the (mollusk's) exoskeleton is responsible for distinct and multifunctional roles in mechanical protection," Ortiz and her colleagues write in the report. The testing reveals that the shell is "advantageous for penetration resistance, energy dissipation, mitigation of fracture and crack arrest, reduction of back deflections, and resistance to bending and tensile loads."

Our study suggests that the scaly-foot gastropod undergoes very different deformation and protection mechanisms compared to other gastropods," said Ortiz. "It is very efficient in protection, more so than the typical mollusk."


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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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