General Question

noodle_poodle's avatar

Why dont slugs have shells?

Asked by noodle_poodle (1614 points ) August 2nd, 2009

I know they are different animals I just think its odd that they are so similar and yet snails grow shells and slugs dont…do slugs move faster to make up for not being able to hide? What are snail shells even for if slugs seem to do fine in the same environment without them? It blows my mind how crazy life on earth is..worms have 5 hearts and yet no lungs..whats up with that?

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21 Answers

Sarcasm's avatar

Shells would slow ‘em down too much!

MrGV's avatar

Cause if they did have shells they would become snails. silly

cyn's avatar

First of all…Welcome to Fluther. :)
snails and slugs
that might help…

TheCreative's avatar

@noodle_poodle Welcome to Fluther!

Yess i’ll have to agree with @Sarcasm and @MrGeneVan. Haha

dpworkin's avatar

My dad (Olev H’a Sholom) used to say, “If your Aunt had balls, she’d be your Uncle.”
I suppose if slugs had shells, they would be snails.

noodle_poodle's avatar

rofl I suppose so…Tho I don’t think I can accept that things are the way they are because if they weren’t then they wouldn’t be…that puts out the fire of curiosity

seekingwolf's avatar

They have another defense mechanism that’s not a shell.

When you pick up a slug, it oozes out a smelly, icky yellow fluid. Yuck!

A snail, on the other hand, does not have this. It uses its shell to protect itself from predators and the like. Slugs ooze liquid instead to ward off predators and make them not want to eat the slugs.

swuesquire's avatar

Slugs are snails from an alternative dimension where there is no salt. Now they curse the day the rift brought them here.

Zendo's avatar

Worms don’t need lungs as they have fuel injection system.

Slugs have no shells due to evolution.They evolved separately from snails.

On another note, How fast does an S car go?

cyn's avatar

@Zendo I would say less than normal, unless it’s pretty stable. It would depend on the wind speed and direction.

cyn's avatar

@Zendo It would just go in curves, no?

Darwin's avatar

Snails and slugs are all gastropods. The advantage to being a slug rather than a snail is that if there is an environment that has plenty of moisture but very little limestone (think the Pacific Northwest) slugs don’t need a shell to keep from drying out, but snails can’t find enough calcium to build a proper shell. Thus being sluggish can be a good thing at times.

Then, since they can’t pull back into a shell for protection, slugs have the ability to squeeze into the tiniest cracks to hide, and they put out nasty mucus that can actually kill some predators and certainly makes then taste very bad.

And actually, some slugs do have shells. They are just very small and covered over by a part of the body called the mantle.

Slugs also have behavior – they fight over the best hiding places by “licking” each other with a toothy structure that looks like a tongue but feels like sandpaper. They also seem to remember bad happenings for about seven days and so avoid the situation or place that caused them for that long.

I am a systematic terrestrial malacologist who used to study slugs so that’s why I both know and care about this subject. That plus $5.00 will get me a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

BTW, you can eat slugs if you wash them well first, to get the mucus off. A friend of mine used to make banana slug bread when he was in grad school.

gailcalled's avatar

Funny you should mention banana slugs.

NIcolas Kristoff’s op-ed piece in today’s NYTimes: How to Lick a Slug

Repeating myself, here is the last “graph.

“Oh, and the slug? Time was, most kids knew that if you licked the underside of a banana slug, your tongue went numb. Better that than have them numb their senses staying cooped up inside.”

jamielynn2328's avatar

It’s the economy, they probably got evicted!

mattbrowne's avatar

Be fertile and multiply. Then defenses don’t matter that much. Sea slugs exist on this world for more than 500 million years. Now compare this to 200,000 years of human beings. Who said we are survivors because we got spears and guns?

Darwin's avatar

@mattbrowne – Actually sea slugs are more like humans in that sense in that they appropriate nematocysts from the corals and anemones they feed on and then turn around and use them to sting the daylights out of critters that think they want to eat sea slugs.

Some references.

Humans aren’t the only animals to use weapons.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Darwin – Interesting. Thanks for the link. What about land slugs in this respect?

Darwin's avatar

@mattbrowne – Since nothing on land has nematocysts (and since many, but not all, land slugs tend to be herbivores), they have no source for obtaining such weapons. However, they may utilize chemicals from the plants they eat to add noxiousness to their mucus.

snowberry's avatar

Slugs get through security easier. Snails have to go through a strip search, and then are banned from flying.

crazyivan's avatar

It’s so they can be that much more disgusting. As Calvin said, “4 inch living boogers”

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