Jeremy the 'lefty' snail dies - but not before finally producing offspring

Helena Horton
Garden Snail

Jeremy the "lefty" snail, who captured the nation's hearts as he searched for a fellow rare garden snail with which to mate, has died.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham asked the country to check the snails in their garden and find one with a left-coiling shell.

Most garden snails have right-curling shells, but in the end they found some 'lefties' for Jeremy to mate with.

In studying the offspring of two 'lefty' snails, scientists think they can unlock the secrets behind the left and right sides of human bodies and brains.

Jeremy was so rare that scientists called him a one in a million gastropod, and had to ask the public to find him a mate.

But disaster struck as two of the 'lefty' snails found for him mated with each other, producing offspring and leaving Jeremy in the cold.

However, he clearly had parental tendencies, as was seen looking after the offspring of his love rivals - and was seen by researchers as their uncle.

Scientists had given up hope after the lovelorn gastropod mated in June this year - but failed to produce any children.

Garden Snail

However, just last week he managed to leave his legacy - some of his tiny children hatched.

His devoted handler, University of Nottingham geneticist Angus Davison told The Telegraph how he discovered that his celebrity snail had died soon after the breakthrough births.

He said: "Although Jeremy has been hibernating the past couple of weeks, I still checked up on him/her every few days.

"Discovered dead yesterday, a few days after eggs hatched. Most likely, old age - was at least two years old, probably more."

However, despite this distressing news, the snail has contributed an incredible amount to genetic science.

Dr Davison told BBC's Today Programme: "We have lots and lots of offspring finally.

"He finally mated in June bud didn't produce any offspring.

"We'd almost given up hope.

"Finally,  last week some babies hatched, and unfortunately more or less at the same time Jeremy died."

His offspring were right-coiling, but this is to be expected. 

Future generations of Jeremy's offspring will need to be studied to advance genetic science.

Dr Davison said: "This is part of a process really towards finding out what these genes are in these snails and bringing it back to us - finding out whether the left and right coils of the snail's shell are linked to the the left and right sides of the body. 

"We had one very rare lefty snail and if you want to study inheritance you need to find another.

"We have already been doing some interesting experiments with Jeremy but for the genetic science it has to be at least a few more months and perhaps a year."

He said this a long time in the lifespan of a snail, however: "The first set of offspring you heard about in May are already adults now.

"We now have 7 lefty snails in total."

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