Cast-Iron Foot: Undersea snail has mineral armor

By Sid Perkins, 15:49 PM April 15, 2008

An as-yet-unnamed species of snail living around hydrothermal vents deep beneath the Indian Ocean bears an unusual suit of armor forged from the dissolved minerals spewing into its seafloor habitat.

The sides of the snail's foot are covered with scales that range up to 8 millimeters in length and overlap like roof tiles, says Anders Warén, a marine biologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. The core of those structures is made of a protein called conchiolin, a common com...

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