I read in the newspaper today that the more slime produced by a snail, the slower it will crawl. Leaving a trail of mucus uses up energy, so a thin layer of mucus allows the most efficent movement, apparently. Knowing of Clare’s identification with snails, I followed this news brief to the source, which turns out to be a scientific paper on the ArXiv preprint server by Eric Lauga and A. E. Hosoi at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Here is the abstract of their paper:
"Common gastropods such as snails crawl on a solid substrate by propagating muscular waves of shear stress on a viscoelastic mucus. Producing the mucus accounts for the largest component in the gastropod’s energy budget, more than twenty times the amount of mechanical work used in crawling. Using a simple mechanical model, we show that the shear-thinning properties of the mucus favor a decrease in the amount of mucus necessary for crawling, thereby decreasing the overall energetic cost of locomotion."
Clare would put it more poetically, and indeed accessibly, than this. But I hope she’ll like it.
(Clare blogs at Keeper of the Snails, where writing, poetry, beauty and science intersect.)