Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Love darts -- yes, they really exist!

Snails are, as everyone knows (or maybe everyone should know) hermaphrodites, meaning they are both sexes. This should make reproduction really fun; but unfortunately, for snails, it's not all that great.

If you're a snail and you're in the mood, then the first step, of course, is to find a snail you love and want to have your children. Then you shoot him/her with one of your love darts. Yup. This handy little device contains a wonderfully romantic mucous that allows your sperm to live longer and increases the chance that your partner will actually produce some offspring.

It's a risky business, though, and snail love is a "hit or miss" proposition. Snails are notoriously bad shooters and about a third of their darts either fail to penetrate or miss the target altogether. This is actually something of a relief for the recipient snail since apparently those love darts HURT! So while the shooter is aiming (badly), the target does the snail equivalent of running away, trying to dodge the penetration as best he/she can. If you ever see a pair of snails jostling around each other, it's probably because one of them's in love and the other one is not.

Reference: National Geographic


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