The Brown Garden Snail: species named in honor of Otto Friedrich Müller: Helix Aspersa Müller
Here are pictures of a celebrity: the Helix Aspersa Müller.
For the first time, the species was described as Helix Aspersa (speckled snail) by the Danish naturalist Otto Friedrich Müller in 1774.
Otto Friedrich Müller was a member of the Academia Caesarea Leopoldina, the Royal Scandinavian Academy of Sciences, the Paris Academy of Sciences and the Berlin Society of Friends of Natural Science and had a lasting impact on zoological studies across Europe.
Petit Gris Ecargot: as it is known in France. The color of their skin varies from albino white to black.
Anatomy of a Land Snail
Notice how similar they look to human organs.
The common names of this species is «Escargot petit gris» in French and «Brown garden snail» in English. In Greece it is referred to as «Kritikos kochlios».
The snail H. Aspersa (Cornu Aspersum) has spherical shape with the larger diametre of the shell ranging from 25 to 40 mm and the height from 25 to 35 mm.
The shell of snails is multicoloured and varies from light yellow to dark brown.
Snail bubbling its precious serum
Over the shells there are dark elongated zones of various types and colours.
Land snails secrete a substance rich in antioxidants when they come out of the shell after estivating (similar to hybernating but done in the hot season). They do it to avoid damage to their skin when coming into an atmosphere plenty of oxygen after their metabolism what arrested inside the shell with no oxygen.
The increase in the baseline activity of key antioxidant enzymes, as well as ‘secondary’ enzymatic defenses, and/or glutathione levels in preparation for a putative oxidative stressful situation arising from tissue reoxygenation seem to be the preferred evolutionary adaptation of the Helix Aspersa Müller.
1. Reference Scientific Paper: Animal response to drastic changes in oxygen availability and
physiological oxidative stress. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C 133 (2002) 537–556. Marcelo Hermes-Lima, Tania Zenteno
Oxyradical Research Group, Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidade de Bras ́ılia, Bras ́ılia, DF 70910-900, Brazil. Centro de Investigaciones Biolo ́gicas del Noroeste, S.C., Acuacultura y Biotecnolog ́ıa Marina, Mar Bermejo 195, Playa Palo Santa Rita, La Paz, Baja California Sur, CP 23090, Mexico.
2. Hypometabolism, antioxidant defenses and free radical metabolism in the pulmonate land snail Helix aspersa. doi: 10.1242/jeb.00124 February 15, 2003 J Exp Biol 206, 675-685. Gabriella R. Ramos-Vasconcelos and Marcelo Hermes-Lima.
Snails move by laying down a bed of viscous secretion or mucus, most of which it leaves behind as a glistening trail. The mucus also serves to predigest their food, giving rise to their zoological name, gastropod, meaning ‘stomach-foot’, although the actual stomach and intestines of the snail are up inside its shell.
This snail species secretes a similar secretion to heal its skin and organs when bitten by birds or other predators: insects and small mamals.
Snails present a Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) molecule among its tissues. This was one of the first mammalian cytokines to be discovered and has been described as a pivotal regulator of innate immune and inflammatory responses in mammals. It stimulates the proliferation of quiescent or dormant fibroblasts, the cells that are responsible for the creation of all the structures, tissues and cells of our skin.
That is the basis of the rationale of using the snail secretions to regenerate human skin
Link: Skin Regeneration Properties of Mollusk Secretion – 2008 – It leads to the website with publications of researchers enrolled by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York.
Please note: Biocutis products are not endorsed by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York but their published research validates the regenerative properties of the immune serum conclusively.
This species is hermaphroditic and they inseminate one another.
The breeding season at the Mediterranean regions, takes place in late spring or early summer. They are breeded in France, Italy, Spain, Australia and many other countries for their edible gourmet meat.
In nature, the species requires one to two years of growth to reach maturity.
It prefers wet areas with a mild climate, light and low-lying ground, although sometimes it is found at an altitude of 1000 m.
We can encounter it in a wide range of habitats.
It prefers calcareous soils in order to take the calcium which is necessary for the manufacture of its shell and the reproductive activity.
Snails belong in the large phylum of invertebrate animals known as the phylum Mollusca. Around 85,000 extant species of molluscs are recognized. Molluscs are the largest marine phylum, comprising about 23% of all the named marine organisms. Numerous molluscs also live in freshwater and terrestrial habitats.
They are highly diverse, not only in size and in anatomical structure, but also in behaviour and in habitat. The phylum is typically divided into 9 or 10 taxonomic classes, of which two are entirely extinct. Cephalopod molluscs, such as squid, cuttlefish and octopus, are among the most neurologically advanced of all invertebrates—and either the giant squid or the colossal squid is the largest known invertebrate species. The gastropods (snails and slugs) are by far the most numerous molluscs in terms of classified species, and account for 80% of the total.
Acquiring and processing of sensual stimuli in snails only partially takes place using specialised sense organs. Especially smell, taste, humidity, temperature and touch are sensual information that is acquired by sense cells dispersed over the snail’s outer skin. Those sense cells are especially concentrated on the head, the tentacles and the lips. Apart from their original task as tactile organs, a snail’s tentacles and lips also carry sense cells of smell and taste.
Helix aspersa snails are capable of regenerating fully functional eyes when bitten by birds or insects, or after burns.
This is a new study published in 2012, by The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “A secretion of the mollusc Cryptomphalus aspersa (SCA) promotes proliferation, migration and survival of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts in vitro”
(Helix Aspersa Müller is also known as Crypthomphalus aspersa).
Some zoologists do not like to classify the species in Helix, and can select between Cantareus aspersus (this is the option for those who classify Helix aperta in the same genus as Helix aspersa, as was done by Italian research teams and others)and Cryptomphalus aspersus (for those who like to classify the two species in different genera, as was done by Ukrainian and Russian research teams). Reference: Helix Aspersa.
The research concludes that the results shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the regenerative properties of the mollusc’s secretions, based on its promoting effect on skin cell migration, proliferation and survival. Moreover, these results support future clinical uses of the secretions in the regeneration of wounded tissues. © 2011 Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Société Française de Cosmétologie.”