The Iron Clad Cryptid from the Deep

Cryptozoology lovers, take a look at this thing. If it doesn’t qualify for a cryptid, nothing does! This small creature living in the ocean’s depths is clad in iron! Let me introduce you to Chrysomallon squamiferum, or scaly foot gastropods (snails!)

Back in 2001, scientists discovered this new species, Chrysomallon squamiferum, or scaly foot gastropods, living one and a quarter miles (2400 m) down in the Indian Ocean. They huddle near the thermal vents and are bathed in the scalding hot water jetting out the vents from the Earth’s interior.

Even more amazing is the fact their shells are coated in a layer of iron, as are the intricate little scales underneath the animal.

The rest of their shells is composed of “fool’s gold,” or pyrite. Pyrite has magnetic properties and consequently, so do the scaly foot gastropods! The snails get the golden glow in their shells from the pyrite.

All the minerals from which their shells are made come from the water spilling out of the thermal vents all around them.

They do look like little tanks, don’t they?

They don’t eat as you would normally expect them to. Instead they live off the nutrients produced by endosymbiotic bacteria living in their oesophageal gland.

They are all simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive anatomy. Scientists see evidence that they reproduce successfully because there are a lot of them.

Good for Aquaria?

No, the scientists say they don’t do well in atmospheric pressure and at most, will last three weeks.


Military Likes It

Turns out the military is interested in studying them further in the hope they can incorporate the snails’ characteristics into future technology.

A word of caution – you don’t want them getting near any of your magnetically sensitive equipment, like a cell phone, because they will unintentionally mess it up.

So, what do you think about these little “tanks” from the briny?


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