This week we’re meeting a small, slow inhabitant of the Redwood forest: The Pacific Sideband (Monadenia fidelis). These beautiful reddish-brown snails are remarkable for a few reasons. Most snails breathe through gill slits, but this guy has a lung! Pacific Sidebands are hermaphroditic–they have both male and female parts. This is normal for most snails, but Sidebands set themselves apart with their use of “love darts”.
When Sidebands think they have located a mate, they will engage in a lengthy mating dance. Once they have determined that they are suitable partners, they will shoot a harpoon-like dart made of cartilage or calcium carbonate into their partner. The dart contains hormones that make the mating more successful, but can sometimes pierce internal organs. Ouch!
PC: Andrew McKinlay on Flickr
Sources: Wikipedia-Love Dart; savetheredwoods.org