JUL 22, 2017 08:14 AM PDT

How a Snail is Helping Scientists Understand Bodily Asymmetrical Mirroring


Most animals are nearly symmetrical, which means the left side of your body looks an awful lot like your right side. Although the symmetry isn't perfect (one side of your body can be larger than the other), it's a safe bet that nature has served you rather reasonably and that proportionate imperfections are difficult to notice.

On the other hand, things can be much different inside the body, where organs can point in one direction or another. For most people, hearts grow to the left and stomachs grow to the right, but in the minority of individuals, these organs go the opposite way.

While we aren't entirely sure what causes this phenomenon, scientists do have a name for it: asymmetrical mirroring. In an attempt to learn more about asymmetrical mirroring, researchers are studying Jeremy the snail, a creature with an inverted shell and inverted sex organs, which makes it more difficult for him to mate.

Scientists have learned that finding snails with inverted shells can be just as difficult as finding humans with inverted organs, as well as just how hard it can make the life of a snail. Jeremy has been billed 'the world's loneliest snail' as a result.

Having asymmetrically mirrored organs typically isn't too much a problem, but it can come with an increased risk of other health-driven hardships that aren't so pleasant, such as congenital heart defects.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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