But against all odds, and thanks to a global search, Jeremy has hopefully found a mate (or two).
Jeremy is a “lefty” snail, meaning his shell swirls counterclockwise and his sex organs are on the left side of his head. He’s a mirror image of other members of his species — and he wouldn’t be able to mate with normal snails because their reproductive organs wouldn’t line up.
He could be one in a million, evolutionary geneticist Angus Davison of the University of Nottingham tells The Two-Way, though scientists are now thinking it’s a trait likely found in one out of every 100,000 snails.
Davison’s team is working to determine the gene that makes Jeremy’s shell swirl to the left — and studying his offspring would be helpful for their research. Incidentally, Jeremy is named after Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K.’s Labour Party who also has a fondness for gardens.
They put out a call asking the public “for its help in finding the lonely mollusc a mate,” and spread the word using the hashtag #snaillove. As Popular Science charmingly says, “even snails use online dating.”
Almost immediately, Jeremy, who was originally discovered in a London compost heap, became a media sensation in the U.K. and beyond — a “shellebrity,” as Davison puts it.
“We didn’t really know how big a hope it would be, or the chances of success, to find one,” he says. “But it worked — we found two.”
The owners of the two possible mates have very different stories. “Both of them are snail enthusiasts. Both think people should know more about snails. But apart from that, nothing in common,” Davison adds.
Contestant No. 1: A snail named “Lefty,” a pet to a snail enthusiast near Ipswich, U.K. She got in touch as soon as she heard about …