22 February 2006

The other ultimate question

Yesterday, someone who was searching the Internet using the phrase "meaning of snails" hit upon this blog.

What is the meaning of snails? Well, my dear reader, that question ranks right up there with "What is the meaning of life?"

Generations of malacologists have tried in vain to find an answer. The legend has it that some even climbed high mountains in their quest for the molluscan truth.

Others went so far as to claim that snails were nothing more than figments of our imaginations.

The first question to ask is: What is a land snail? The answer is that there is not any such thing.
H.B. Baker, 1958

But would it not make a sound if a tree fell on a snail in the forest and crushed it into smithereens? And what about that tenacious slime that coats our fingers when we pick up a slug? The crushing of a snail’s shell may not make a sound (if no one is around to hear it), but do we dare deny the reality of slime?

Well, dear reader, I certainly hope your visit to this blog was enlightening. But, don't despair and don't give up in your quest for meaning. The best thing mortals like you and I can do is to keep searching and asking and asking and asking...

Are snails gastropods? Are gastropods mollusks? How did snails, slugs, clams, octopuses evolve from one common ancestor? Is it octopuses or octopi?

The quote above is from H.B. Baker, 1958. Land snail dispersal. Nautilus 71:141.

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