Sandy the unusual snail
Alex Bairstow took this photo of Sandy, an unusual snail from California. (Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County) Alex Bairstow

Meet Sandy, the left-handed mutant snail

Sandy is a mutant snail whose shell coils to the left instead of the right. For humans, being left-handed or right-handed can definitely affect the way we experience life. Usually, that mismatch is just a minor nuisance — but sometimes, sidedness can change the future of an entire species, as is the case for Sandy.

High school senior Alex Bairstow from Carlsbad, California found a very odd European garden snail. This kind of snail is usually dextral, meaning its shell is coiled up on the right side of its body. But this particular snail was different — its shell coiled to the left.

Now this isn’t like having curly hair versus straight hair. The side these shells coil toward dictates the direction of the snails’ reproductive organs. So, this snail won’t be able to reproduce unless it finds another left handed – or left shelled – mate.

SnailBlitz!

If you live in Southern California, you can take part in NHMLA’s SnailBlitz. Snap a photo of a snail or slug and share it! You can:

• E-mail slime@nhm.org OR

• Text 213.663.6632 OR

• Post to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook using #SnailBlitz OR

• Post directly to SnailBlitz 2018 project page on iNaturalist

And if you’re not in SoCal, you should still check out iNaturalist and share your observations!

Sound effects in this episode from freesfx.co.uk

Sandy, the sinistral snail
Sandy, the sinistral snail Courtesy of NHMLA