Or more commonly known as a bubble-rafting violet snail (The purple snail). This occasional upside-down swimmer is a snail that excretes mucus from its foot and uses the raft of bubbles to float from place to place.
Snails that get around on rafts of mucous-y bubbles inherited the talent from ancestors that carried their eggs around like balloons on a string, a new study finds. In the process, the slimy snails transformed themselves from ocean-floor dwellers to free-moving floaters.
The mucous-y snails have been known since the 1600s, but this is the first time that researchers have been able to trace the origin of their snotty ways. Researchers led by University of Michigan graduate student Celia Churchill suspected two possibilities: The first was that the rafts are an advanced version of a snail-moving technique called “droguing.” Young marine snails produce a thread of mucus, or drogue, that helps them drift around like a kite on a string in the water. Another possibility was that the rafts were modified versions of egg masses.