Sunday, January 07, 2007

Your Cheatin' Heart

The first EUT of the New Year I found… well, while randomly searching The List for ugly things. I recently discovered that Massachusetts has both an endangered leech and an endangered planarian, and I had hoped to write about those, but I could not find enough information on either (or both) for a decent post. It does mean that Massachusetts is ahead of the game when it comes to Endangered Uglies. This week’s EUT is a threatened gastropod that hails from West Virginia.

Image from Man and Mollusc
Image from Man and Mollusc

This is the Flat-Spired Three-Toothed Snail (Triodopsis platysayoides), also known as the Cheat three-toothed snail. No, not that The Cheat. This is the Cheat River1, which flows through West Virginia, and the three-tooth makes its home in Cheat Canyon, formed by this river. Actually, “three-tooth” is a misnomer. Many of its genus have three denticles in the opening to its shell, but the Cheat three-tooth2 only has one. Think of “three-tooth” as a grouping, instead of a description3. Its spire, where many snails have a point to their shell, is flat; that part of its name holds true.

The Cheat three-tooth lives on the rocks in damp, shaded areas within the Cheat canyon, such as cave mouths and near the river. I can’t seem to find any information about its food source, but most snails scrape vegetable off surfaces using their radula.

The three-tooth snail was added early to the Endangered Species List; five years after the Endangered Species Act came into play in 1973. Back then, it was listed as threatened due to rock scrambling and other visitor disturbances to Cheat Canyon, but those activities have been moved away from the snails’ habitat. Unregulated timber practices, such as logging trails that divert water flow and cause erosion, may be causes to the continued listing as threatened, as well as deer overbrowsing.

Alright, so I complain a lot about EUTs not getting any media attention, but the three-toothed snail has been used by preservation groups to limit logging within Cheat Canyon, even (briefly) showing up in the Charlton Gazette.

1There’s probably a very interesting story behind the name of the Cheat River. I can’t find it.
2Alright, so they’re not really teeth. In the snails mouths, no teeth either, but a horny tongue, called a radula, used to scrape food.
3Like Grey Squirrels. There are black Grey Squirrels, as well as grey Grey Squirrels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea & blog, I've only just found it but I shall enjoy going through your archives and will look out for your new posts.