How Snail Species May Have Flown Across Mexico to Mingle

By Daniel Strain, ScienceNOW

Pigs may never fly, but in the Gulf of Mexico, snails take to the skies. Or at least they used to. A new study suggests that two species of marine snails may have traveled between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—all in the belly of a bird.

The two species are known as horn snails, and both look a bit like tiny black party hats. One, the Pacific horn snail (Cerithideopsis californica), lives in mangrove forests that hug the coast of Baja down to Panama, and the other, the Atlantic horn snail (C. pliculosa), resides in similar intertidal habitats along coasts from Texas to Panama. “Every time you take a step [in their habitats], you may be stepping on hundreds of them,” says Peter Marko, a biogeographer at Clemson University in South Carolina.

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