A slice into the snail anatomy is just another way of inviting you to take a closer look at the anatomy of snails. Anatomy is a term meaning the study of the bodily structure of living organisms; human, plants and animals, which is revealed by the dissection and separation of parts.
When processing snails before cooking and eventual consumption, I do observe that you can cut the snail into half and that is intriguing because we barely get half of other livestock.
Snails are creatures that are captivating and interesting even though not all religion, culture and region accept or embrace snails. The taboos against snails are even more so interesting. Everything snail is interesting!
Snails also have organs and systems just like human. The two component of snail anatomy is the snail flesh and shell representing the external snail anatomy and the snail internal organs which represents the internal snail anatomy.
Snails are divided into categories based on their habitat; sea snails, land snails, fresh water snails. We would be looking into the land snail anatomy as that is the specie most snail farmers rear. Get your knives ready and let us get a slice into the snail anatomy!
The Land Snail Anatomy
Land snails are terrestrial gastropod mollusk that possesses shells. They are usually found in damp, wet and cool areas and eat varieties of plants and fruits. Land snails are reared in captivity majorly for food by humans, and also as raw material supplier of slime for pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
The land snail anatomy is relatively different from other land animals. Land snails are usually spiral shelled with a clustered body of numerous data and peculiar characteristics not available in any animal.
Land snails are fascinating to many people for various reasons while some just find the slimy being simply slimy and would not even touch them.
External Land Snail Anatomy
The shell and the snail flesh are the external of external snail anatomy of the snail. Snail shells are different in shapes, sizes and colours depending on the specie they belong to. Snails crawl inside their shell once they sense danger lurking or during harsh weather.
The snail shell is a hard, solid spiral-shaped structure carried on the back of the snail. The shell is made up of calcium carbonate and has a central layer called ostracum, which also has two layers of calcium carbonate crystals. The Hipostracum is at the bottom, and the most superficial layer is called the periostracum, which is made up of several proteins.
Varieties in shape of the snail shell include the cone-shaped, round shaped even though they are all spiral designed due to the unique way the snails grow and build them. The shells can also be big or small but definitely big enough to hold the body.
Snail shells are usually coloured with fringe designs ranging from brown to yellow. The shells protect from predators such as rodents and reptiles and also host the internal organs of the snails.
The snail shells are hard due to the composition of calcium carbonate as a result of the calcium rich food they take such as egg shells.
The head of the snail is at one end of the body having one to two pairs of tentacles which retracts and has tactile receptors with the eyes at the tips. The lower pair of tentacles serves as olfactory organs to aid smell of food and possibly during the mating season.
The snail flesh is a soft, viscous textured and dark coloured part of the snail with fairly gray or light spots. It has a muscular ventral foot which serves as their legs aiding their movement.
The snails foot makes a wave shaped movement produced via muscular contractions as it secretes the slippery slime. This slime is a way to trace potential partners and also for human to use.
There is also an outer skin fold of tissue that covers the internal organs and also the mantle cavity. Snails have the ability to retract their tentacles.
There are over twenty thousand species of land snails varying in size, colour and preferred food. Some land snail species include the giant African land snail, the garden snail, periwinkles among others. And snail farmers favourite being the giant African land snail.
Internal Land Snail Anatomy
Excitingly, the body of the snails lack divisions internally because the internal organs, including gonads, intestines, heart and esophagus, all create an organic mass protected by the mantle. Intruiging!
The mantle is the protective layer which covers the foot and few internal organs. In some cases though, it is found to cover the shell as an additional protection.
Snails are intelligent but without brains but have nerve cells concentrated in a set of ganglia which emit neurosecretions that trigger the release of the right hormone at a particular time. Pulmonate animals of which snails also belong to, have a lung specialized in using the oxygen obtained from breathing the air from the atmosphere. Super intruiging!
The snails mouth is located just below the tentacles having a component called radula. This radula is a similar to an elongated sack with several rows of tiny teeth inside which helps to scrap the food rather than chewing. The food then passes into the esophagus and other organs of the digestive tract. The anus is located at the lower part of their soft body.
The senses of snails are sight, smell, touch but not hearing. Snails are deaf! Having no ears or ear canals however does not matter in their ability because they have a ability to remember where they have been and where things are.
Their sense of sight however is poor detecting only change in intensity just enough to know day from night. The tentacles improve their ability to see.
For the snail anatomy in terms of reproductive organs, most snails are hermaphrodites having both male and female reproductive organs and can produce both sperm and eggs in each mating season. Some are asexual; capable of self fertilization and some species have separate male and female species.
The snail anatomy remains one of the few animal anatomies with unique features and characteristics. From having no brains to being deaf yet, these creatures are such that can sense danger and act accordingly to protect themselves to some extent.
Whether you like snails or not, their anatomy and environmental indicating skills are a delight o researcher and a benefit to mankind.
Which part of the snail anatomy did you enjoy putting your knife through?