There are many different species of snail in the UK and one of the most interesting is the White-Lipped Snail. It is a common species across the country and is found both in grassland and woodland. There is something about this species though that makes it important not just to the ecosystem but also our understanding of adaptation and evolution.
The easiest way to identify a white-lip is in the name: the shell has a white line running right around the entrance. Sometimes the white-lip can be found with a complete yellow shell, but it can also be found with a yellow shell with several large black bands spiralling round the shell and into the middle.
This natural oddity was one of the first pieces of evidence that demonstrating animals are able to adapt to their environment through evolution. Although both striped and plain snails belong to the same species, each looks completely different due to where they live.
Banded snails tend to live in grasslands and meadows, whereas plain snails are more likely to be found in woodland. This gives them excellent camouflage.
Between blades of grass, the bands help snails blend in amongst the stems, whereas simply being yellow helps the woodland snails due to the darker environments. Within a few generations, these snails can completely change their shell pattern and as a result are able to evolve alongside a changing ecosystem.
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