A snail and its young preserved in amber

Say, “Whiskey!” It’s a whole family. Besides, the boys were just born. It was a long time ago: 99 million years. A snail and its young preserved in amber are the extraordinary find we will talk about today.

A snail and its amber-preserved boy are a curious 99 million year old family photo.
A snail and its amber-preserved boy are a curious 99 million year old family photo.

Soft and everlasting

Land snails are generally preserved as fossilized snail shells or tracks. Maintaining their mushy bodies is a surprising rarity.

Dr. Adrienne Jochum works at the Senckenberg Research Institute. He examined the amber with high-resolution photographs and micro-computed tomography images. So he was able to reveal the approximately 11 millimeter high snail shell. The mother looks like a marshmallow. Next to her are the little babies.

“They were wrapped in the resin of the tree right after they were born. They remained in this position for millions of years. The mother snail must have noticed her impending doom. It stretches its tentacles up in an ‘alert’ posture, ”added Jochum in a statement.

High-resolution photos made it possible to observe the curious scene better.
High-resolution photos made it possible to observe the curious scene better.
Livebearers in amber

Live births in land snails are another exception. The species was recently described as Cretatortulosa gignens. They believe she gave birth to her young alive in order to protect her offspring from predators for as long as possible.

Jochum explains. “Like their modern relatives, they are in the genus Cyclophoroidea. They probably spent their lives discreetly on dead, rotten leaves. The young of this species were smaller compared to the egg-laying snails. This increased their chances of survival.

A snail and its young preserved in amber are not just a rarity. They also “prove that viviparous snails existed in the Cretaceous Period,” adds Jochum.

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