A snail living alongside dinosaurs has been found, imprisoned in amber for 99 million years, providing us with an unprecedented account of this ancient mollusk anatomy. Better for science – though worse for snails – it has just given birth and at least some of its newborns were close enough to be trapped in an amber alley. Snails rarely preserve well, so most of what we know about their history comes from shells or the best impressions are found on their body shape outlines, although partially preserved Cretaceous specimens have been found in amber.
As a result, the discovery of a well-preserved snail will be significant enough, even if it is not accompanied by five recently born young. The younger one was still attached to the mother by the mucus trail. Dr Adrienne Jochum of Senckenberg Research Institute said in a statement, “Snails were bound to tree resin shortly after birth and were kept in that position for millions of years. The mother snail has certainly noticed her impending fate and is expanding her tents in a ‘red warning’ posture.”
It is not known why a member of the acute slow gastropod class could not avoid an invisible sepslide, but he was probably exhausted at the end of the birth process. The accompanying photographs show that Amber is clear enough to give a great view, but Jochum and his colleagues also applied CT scans to study the whereabouts of the unfortunate family. Significant research shows that only snails really give birth to young. Today a few land snails are still alive and we have a record of 19 million years ago, but laying eggs is much more common.
This may have been true in the case of Cretaceous as well, but single conflicting data points have called it into question. Among the snails we have found the oldest evidence of this viviparity (living birth). Jochum and his colleagues named the amber-encased species Kretatortulosa gigens in the Gondwana Research Journal. They suspect that there was an adaptation to protect youngsters against live birth predators, although it is not clear how such a snail could not have avoided even an amber snowfall. We do not know why this technique may be more convenient for gastropods than it is now.
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