Armored Snail Facts
- The attention-grabbing term of Armored Snail serves as one of the common names for a truly remarkable variety of sea snail. But that’s not its only name. In fact, this incredible marine gastropod mollusk also goes by several other common names.
- These alternate terms by which it’s known include the titles of the scaly-foot snail, the sea pangolin, and the scaly-foot gastropod. Among professional researchers it goes by yet another title. That’s the tongue-twisting term of Chrysomallon squamiferum.
- The truly remarkable sea creature also represents an only recently discovered species. Further, the startling discovery of this quite fascinating creature also occurred entirely by accident. That fortunate discovery occurred in the year 2001.
- Amazingly, this incredible snail actually evolved a method of utilizing iron sulfide in its shell. As a result, it literally produces armor-plated shells. Currently, the United States military is attempting to employ armor-developing techniques inspired by it.
- Due to the extremes of its native environment, the IUCN presently lists the Armored Snail as Endangered. This regrettable status appears on the organization’s Red List of Threatened Species. Sadly, that could also be downgraded in the near future.
- For the moment, its most pressing threats appear to consist of potential habitat loss. The leading culprit in this remains deep-sea mining efforts. Nonetheless, it must also be considered to be facing at least some risk due to the effects of climate change.
Armored Snail Physical Description
The shell of the truly astounding sea creature that men call the Armored Snail also amazes due to its complexity. Nature never fails to amaze with its adaptability. That’s partly due, in this case, to the fact that the shell appears to be made of three separate and distinct layers.
First off, the inner layer of the intricately designed protective casing of the animal has its own distinctive characteristics. That’s because it’s formed primarily of the a mineral called aragonite. It’s a form of calcium carbonate, common to many corals and mollusks.
Secondly, the middle layer possesses its own remarkable nature. For one, it remains entirely organic in nature. This section of the shell also measures as the thickest of the three layers. More precisely, this portion averages about 150 micrometers in thickness.
Finally, the outer layer represents the most unusual, and fascinating, of the three layers. It’s also the one of greatest interests to scientist, for many reasons. This part measures roughly 30 micrometers thick. It’s also the component composed of those unique iron sulfides.
The shell of the Armored Snail also displays a rounded shape. Despite its other attributes, it’s a tiny species. It has a maximum known shell width of 1.8 in (45.5 mm). The shades of each layer vary, with the outer layer mainly being various shades of brown in color.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Gastropoda
- Order: Neomphalina
- Family: Peltospiridae
- Genus: Chrysomallon
- Species: C. squamiferum
Armored Snail Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Quite sadly, the remarkable Armored Snail appears to inhabit an incredibly restricted range of the world. To date, the only known zone of habitation for this truly impressive marine gastropod remains restricted to only very specific sections of the Indian Ocean.
Humans discovered the creature living at the bases of black smokers, in the kara hydrothermal vent field. This lies on the Central Indian Ridge. Later, researchers discovered a small population living along the Central Indian Ridge, near the Mauritius Islands.
Unfortunately, the extreme nature of its habitat makes acquiring in-depth knowledge knowledge of this amazing species quite difficult. As an understandable result, researchers still know very little about most aspects of its life. But, a few things are currently known.
For one, the incredibly fascinating Armored Snail lives at extreme depths. In point of fact, the only known populations reside at a depth of roughly 7,490 ft (2,420 m) below the surface of the ocean. The entire area it lives in only consists of roughly 25,700 sq ft (2,387.6 sq m)
This animal is also one of only a few to possess a method of feeding known as chemoautotrophy. This process involves acquiring nutrition from highly specialized symbiotic bacteria. These further break down the ferrous iron in the water for nourishment.