Thursday, January 31, 2013
Snail shells yield ancient climate clues
An old wives' tale that snails can be a sign of changing weather should not be dismissed out of hand, European researchers say, as they may give climate clues.
Snails climbing a plant or post supposedly means rain is coming, the tale goes, but a study led by the University of York in Britain goes one better: It shows snails can provide a wealth of information about the prevailing weather conditions thousands of years ago.
Analysis of the chemistry of snail shells recovered from Mediterranean caves, and dating back as far as 9,000 years, shows the western Mediterranean was not the hot dry place it is now but warmer, wetter and stickier, a university release reported Wednesday.
Archaeological sites around the Mediterranean basin from the time when the first farmers arrived in Italy and Spain contain an abundance of land snail shell remains, the researchers said.
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