Thursday, 5 December 2013

A repost of one of my favourite blog post, I hope noone minds!

Originally posted 29th June 2010, titled: 
Snails having beards? WTM (what the Mollusca!)
Well, those of you that stalk me enough to know I live in a yellow house will know, I have just two one exam left. In the spirit of exam season I will answer the following 'exam style question': Discuss the concept of Snails having beards. So the first thing to do is to make sure I understand the question: 
Discuss the concept of Snails having beards. 

Discuss - two sides of point, explain though process, conclude. Concept - is it possible? implications? 

INTRO: - PARA 1: What is a beard? Para 2: snails have hair. Para 3: Can one say snails have beards? Para 4: how would a beard be of use? Para 5: Conclusion 


Well, its a question which always make people go 'hmmm', but do snails and beards go together? We need to understand a little bit about snails and beards to begin to discuss this. 

Firstly, someone commented that this site does not actually say what a beard is! This is obviously outrageous - so an update will be forthcoming. I'll try and summarize. So a beard refers to facial hair in some way. Now I believe that I've seen it defined as 'lower facial hair' and presumably a goatee is a beard, ergo chin hair constitutes a beard. No, sideburns are not a beard, however if the two sides join then they cease to be sideburns but become a full beard. Patchiness doesn't necessarily cause a beard to lose its status as beard, so therefore a beard can be styled in certain ways and does not have to cover the whole face. I do not believe hair above the upper lip is relevant to beardedness at all. What about length? When does stubble become a beard? In my opinion, stubble will be a few days growth, therefore after this there is likely to be intent on growing a fuller beard. I would also suggest perhaps 5-10mm is probably a threshold to class it as a beard. So between a few days and this length, let's call it an initiation beard. OK, so a beard is facial hair on the chine, cheeks and jawline grown by men usually after adolescence. 

Next, I'm sure you've been wondering do snails even have hairs - well I kind-of gave a bit away in the plan above! But before I explain that, let’s just check we're all familiar with snails. One interesting fact about certain snails, including common garden snails, is that they have a rather unusual feature of love darts. Now at first I found this pretty cool; snails having these arrows like cupid, awww blessems! But then its kindof weird, it’s like this gurt long ritual and they only have one dart, they can’t really see so it’s difficult to actually hit –let alone penetrate. And they don’t make these darts until after their first mate, so like what’s the point. It’s not essential so why don’t they just get busy right away!! Anyway that’s barely relevant – I’ve attached a picture of a snail FYI. Ok, now back to hairs. In humid environments, the shells of snails appear to be hairy – I’m not quite sure why, it’s an evolutionary thing to do with adhesiveness (but hairs have no effect in dry conditions). So there are at least some hairs onsome snails. But thus hair is on the shells. 

Next issue we must resolve is where the snail’s face is. I’d say it’s like the upper half of the body in front of the shell. So that’s got the eyes, mouth and respiratory pore. There are cilia but these are not really external so don’t count as facial hair. AS FAR AS I AM AWARE SNAILS DO NOT HAVE FACIAL HAIR! So the remaining part of this post is somewhat a moo point (for those who enjoyed ‘friends’). 

But if hypothetically snails did have beards…? Actually, I’m writing this and just thinking what is even the point – like who’s my audience as it’s like not accurate enough to be sciency or really anything exciting to read. Well I said I’ll do it so I’ll finish. Beards are of great use to men because: they keep us warm – snails ain't warm blooded; err, they make us look good- hello, snails have love darts (!); and they are natural. I just think the idea of snails having beards is stupid. I mean seriously, people put out hair as a trap to kill slugs and snails; they get tangled up in it and die. 

So in conclusion, NO snails do not have beards, why? cuz evolution isn’t THAT stupid.

Reading back over this, I don't really have anything to add. Enjoy!

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