Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Snail's pace

It's all over. One of our last additions, before Christmas, was one that generated an unexpected amount of interest. Colin Campbell and I were walking back through the gardens when he asked me whether I was interested in a yellow slug. When I saw that it had a shell I was very interested in it: I had only ever seen these misfit molluscs in the book, and I always wondered what they would look like in life. Malcolm, an ecologist who has been studying snail books a lot longer than I have, described seeing it as being 'like a childhood dream come true'. Testacella haliotidea subsequently attracted a larger audience than any other gastropod has ever had on the reserve.

Determined to take us over 2000 species, I made a last visit on New Year's Eve, and spent an evening trying to name some of the trickier specimens I had collected earlier in the year. We got there just before the clock struck midnight and all my specimens turned into tiny pumpkins. Or so I thought: it turned out that while I had been at my microscope over Christmas, Dave Buckingham had been at his keyboard entering the rest of his records, giving us a total of 2025 species.

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