Why and How Does a Snail Change the Length of its Antenna?

From Issue: Discovery 8/1/2007

Dear Hannah,

This is a great question. Thanks for taking the time to write it. The snail’s two sets of “antennae” are actually tentacles. The upper tentacles, or eye stalks, hold the snail’s eyes. The lower pair serve as olfactory (smelling) organs.

Maybe you have seen an antenna for a remote control car or a television. The antenna can be pulled out to be long, but then pushed together and become short again. Things that can be made long and short like antennae are called “retractable.” The roofs of some cars are another example of “retractability” (the roof on a convertible slides out of the way). Much like TV antennae and convertible car roofs, the snail’s tentacles are retractable.  They pull all the way back into the snail’s head when they aren’t needed. This is important, because the snail’s entire head can retract into its shell for protection. When retracted, some snails protect themselves with a door-like structure called operculum.

God has given the snail everything it needs to survive. The design of the snail is a great example of God’s wonderful work.


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