Twisted and Crooked

on Saturday, June 20, 2009

Opisthostoma vermiculum (by Reuben Clements)

Malaysia is one of the 12 Mega-Biodiversity Countries as recognised by the Convention of Biological Diversity. 75% of all the species of the Earth can be found in these 12 countries. These countries are therefore particularly rich in the number and uniqueness of the species found there.

So it may not be too surprising that two newly discovered Malaysian species made it into the Top 10 New Species for 2009 list. The first is a new species of stick insect which is now recognised as the biggest in the world.

The second species is Opisthostoma vermiculum which is an unusual snail species which has so far only been recovered from the top of a single limestone outcrop. Apart from its incredibly limited range, it is also unique because its shell forms twist about four coiling axes. Most snails form coils only along a single axis though before this, coils formed about as many as three axes have been known but not 4 axes. (the axes are shown on the photo).

Basically, all that is just a fancy way to say that this is one crooked shell. The scientific name for the snail means 'worm-like". I hope you like this strange creature.

This new species is a very important discovery. Scientists believe that something in the difficult limestone habitat made this creature to develop this unusually crooked shell. Sociologists, in turn, believe that this may be the missing link or key to explain why so many Malaysian politicians are equally convoluted and crooked; it is a natural result of the Malaysian environment!

After pondering this revelation, I was inspired to write this following poem.

"There was a crooked man who cooked up a crooked plan,
To build a crooked bridge so that he could be crooked rich,
He cut down the forest trees for one of his crooked schemes,
And sold out the next generation, for he was a crooked politician."

(I have posted about the crooked bridge before. To read all about it, click HERE!)


Gina said...

my first thought was that these were some kind of flexible hoses one would find under the hood of one's car. car parts. I guess art AND car parts imitate life!

Hi LGS! I like your crooked bridge poem. Lots of crooked politicians with gleeming pearly whites and perfectly straight souls who could use a little dental work. Off the topic I know! God bless you


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is one cool snail shell.

Marja said...

Very interesting this new snail creature and also in interesting view that politicians become crokked when adapting to their environment Very well expressed in a clever poem LGS

Lorac said...

Oh they are amazing! They would make great earrings! Just kidding!

geewits said...

I love when new species are discovered. Or even discovered by me. I just discovered that giant butterfly, the queen something, the other day and it was really cool to look at the pictures. And those recent teeny frogs that are no bigger than a fingernail. Not to mention the wack sea cratures that were discovered last year. I have to say though, that you probably insulted the snails by comparing them to politicians.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Gina...I thought these were some kind of flexible hose at first until I read further. very cool. :) thanks for sharing!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I can see the resemblance to flexible hoses and I like the way you go off topic. :)

Are your boys interested in snails?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. Over here comments about politicians need to be done in a crooked round about way.

Just kidding? I think it would look nice as earrings. We can use the shells after the snails have moved out. :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I know exactly what you mean. Discovering new species for ourselves is always fascinating. it certainly is why i keep an eye out for new species and they are always fascinating.

Glad you liked this oddity. :)

the watercats said...

lol... your's aren't the only crooked politicians... as for those snail.. they are funky indeed!.... It never ceases to amaze me that we mere hoomins are still finding new species..

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Most of our American politicians are insects, too, but few are as colorful and interesting as your newly discovered one.

Nice poem.

the walking man said...

You may have hit on something here Squirrel. The human built society resembling the natural order of things.

Maybe they named this new snail incorrectly, maybe crookedess politicus is it's name.

Jo said...

That is amazing! It is incredible how nature will design the perfect object, suited to its needs. At first, when I looked at the pictures, I didn't realize it was an animal.

squirrelmama said...

Crookedness seems almost a virtue, LGS. I wonder how many politicians are going to seize upon this as an asset in their next campaign?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Indeed. Although i know that there must still be thousands of species yet to be discovered, sometimes the rate of discovery surprises me. In Vietnam alone, several hundred species was discovered last year. as to uncovering new corrupt politicians, sadly that happens far too often and too regularly. :)

Ah, I love to hate politicians too. But a very few actually do make it out of the mud and transform into real statesmen. Sadly, too few.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Well, the environment shapes the creature. Today's world is focussed too much on capitalism, the worship of the rich and famous and too little on moral responsibility - hence we get politicians of the "right is might" and the "whoever has the gold makes the rules" variety.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Actually, I can't figure out why it would be an advantage to have such a shell but it only occurs in a very harsh environment so it must have a very good reason for being like that.

Please read my comment to Mark. I think we are giving the right conditions for them to breed. (the crooked politicians, I mean).

Mr. Charleston said...

Squirrel, Nice blog. I'm a first time visitor and, as everyone else, am intrigued by the snails.

Question: Are there grey squirrels in that neck of the woods, or are you the only, lonely, one? Somehow, I view them as temperate zone animals. Just curious.

Owen said...

Hi Most Eminent Squirrely Blogger, I read through your post twice, but am still in doubt as to whether these are fossils, or are there still living examples of them today breeding and growing their strange and wonderful quad-axis shells on that limestone outcropping ? How bizarre ! And loved how you twisted a science lesson into a morals and ethics lesson, but I guess perhaps you were thinking of the slime that snails produce, similar to the slime of politicians... There was also the story of a certain bridge in Alaska that sounded vaguely slimy... the bridge to Nowhere...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Mr. Charleston.
Thanks for commenting. Much appreciated. Squirrels are found all round the world but there are different species. You are right to associate Grey Squirrels with temperate climate. I did a post called "Squirrel 101" which tries to explain this a little. :)

Let's not over=exaggerate the link between snails and politicians. The snails might get offended!

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