This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The ultimate predator: a rant.

I watched a TV programme called Earth's Mythical Islands the other day. It was about the wildlife of New Zealand. The pictures were lovely, and the commentary was read impressively by Sam Neill.

In this super-saturated environment, drawled Sam, huskily, as the screen focused on another stretch of wet undergrowth, this specialised snail is the Ultimate. Predator.

photo (not from the programme) by Mike Dickison

Ultimate predator? 


Admittedly it was a Powelliphanta snail that can grow to the size of a man's fist, and admittedly the sight of it sucking up an earthworm like spaghetti was outstandingly gross, was a snail! Apart from the fact that most of the poor things get eaten by brushtail possums, pigs, hedgehogs, rats and the native weka:

File:Weka-fledgling 1.JPG
photo by Duncan Wright

you just see what happens when a cow stands on it!

Look, if you want to impress me then tell me some facts. Tell me that it lays bean-sized eggs with shells like bird eggs; tell me that it's unique to New Zealand; tell me how very very rare and threatened it is, and how its shell cracks if it gets dry. 

But don't try and tell me it's a sort of molluscan equivalent of a Bengal tiger, because it isn't.

And anyway, the reality is absolutely marvellous.

Word To Use Today: snail. This word comes from the Old English snægl.

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