02 December 2011

The gourmet snail

It is never wise to disturb a gourmet who's digging in, though listening to a snail eat is one of life's great and greatly under-celebrated pleasures. As to who is being spied upon, I don't have a clue, nor would I presume to try to find out.

"In order to recognise and describe new snail species, it is not enough to study their shells or what they do look like from the outside. Species of each genus do look very similar, esp. for laymen. The most characteristic feature - a kind of "species fingerprint" - of Australian land snails is the anatomy of their penial wall."
— Martin Pueschel, Australian Museum (see his gorgeous drawings of these sinuosities here)

"I'm not a species. I'm an individual!"
— anon., though often attributed to a man who walked into a bar on Xlugna, 2098

This is the polyporus woody pore-fungus that the snail has been trawling on a long lunch.

Go have your own good time viewing the weird and wondrous offerings of the Fungilicious group's art challenge:
"Woody pore-fungi & Bracket-fungi (Polyporus and allies) Must show the pores clearly!!!!

And now we'll slink off.

"An occasional meal with himself is very good for Mr. Doe. It gives him time to look about him; quiet in which to savour his present mouthful."
– M.F.K. Fisher, "On Dining Alone", from Serve It Forth


Adam Browne said...

more richness, thank you

i wish i was a mollusc micrographic illustrator - what a great job - and the fungi photo comp - lovely - fantastic forms in nature...

Snails have the largest penises, i believe, in comparison to bodysize... I remember one of your poems, referring to snails or slugs mating - twining in a bouquet of sperm - something like that - beautiful stuff.

Alfred Jarry wrote about an island where the trees have the texture and general form of snails' eyestalks... I wished I'd thought of that the moment I read it...

anna tambour said...

Thank you for your incentive to search further! And there are treasures galore.
The naughty bit of a snail on Aydin Örstan's Snail's Tales: Snails, Slugs, Natural History, Evolution and Everything Else--a site that is so good, it's subversive against whatever else you should be doing.

And you might spare a thought for the fouling side-effects of an anti-fouling agent (TBT), reported a year ago in The Australian.
Pointed dilemma for female sea snails

"Until recently, 100 per cent of Thais orbita marine snails, found off the Perth coastline, suffered from imposex, a condition caused by exposure to an anti-fouling agent called TBT which interfered with their hormones and created a second sex organ.

While TBT was used on boats in Western Australia until 1991, Curtin University researchers continued to find that most females had penises growing from their foreheads."

And I cannot let you think I wrote a poem about slugs. I have not felt up to them, though I did applaud their most beautiful dance, compared to which, ballet is a stumblebump of cloddhoppers.

See The beauty of mating slugs, which tells where you can see it online. In the comments you'll find not only a wonderful reference to the poem "Slugs Amorous in the Air" by William Pitt Root, but the reaction to the reading of it by Lara Fargas, in the Library of Congress. She is a poet herself, the kind the world needs.

and before you leap away, may I direct you, a fellow slimophile, to the Work that earned me the title Dr in languages that have never been subtitled or dubbed,Wodehouse, snails, and dramatic interest.

Adam Browne said...

such a wonderful poem! does so many things I would like to do in my own writing! - I think I spun a memory of something similar from your phrase 'flower of sperm'; so perfect, the blend of repulsion and beauty. I often say my writing is a dorid nudibranch; maybe, too, it's a mating leopard slug.

anna tambour said...

Well, nothing can be finer than being a nudibranch. In fact, I admire them so much that I asked Dr Hans Bertsch to write an essay about his passion, since he has devoted a good part of his life to them. See his Why I like nudibranchs, marine slugs with verve". He has named over 30 species of nudibranchs, and has had several named in his honor. His favourite is Bajaeolis bertschi, foudroyantly colored in various shades of pink and red, with white maculations.

So Adam, I look forward to the day some -ologist gives your writing its own name. Then we could enjoy the somewhat cruel sensation of watching little dorid turn lugubrious with literary envy.