Tuesday, December 15, 2009

At a snails’ pace!

Snails are often used as a rule of thumb to mock at the pace at which an activity or an event is occurring and when I would encounter snails of various kinds in the canopy, I used to wonder as to how long it would have taken for these slow moving creatures to reach the tree tops about 25m above where they usually live and what makes them travel so high.

No doubt that the decaying matter on the forest floor is comparatively higher than the canopy soil organic matter, something must be up there which makes them do the epic journey. And once on top, they seem to be equally at home among the moss and organic matter collected in the forks of the numerous branches radiating from often big trunk- may be this small patches offer more nutrition than the ground litter. I have often encountered these snails in the canopy and generally un- common on the floor. On would easily think like I did that the time taken by the snail to come down (if at all it does) would also be at an equally slow pace. However, I was proved wrong when I came across this strange and unique situation where the snails seemed to have seen us canopy people going up and coming down on ropes and learnt from it (or is it the other way round?). With amazing stability and dexterity, this snail was coming down from the tree top on a single thin strand of slimy mucous, like we rappel down on ropes! Though it would take days to reach the top, they seem to have evolved and adaptation over time to come down rapidly as if they too understood the Newton’s laws of gravity and it seems that an evolutionary adaptation, at least in this case has not been happening at a snails pace!

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