It is said that artists are never fully appreciated until they die. The same goes for snails, apparently.
For roughly a decade, the land snail species Achatinella apexfulva, which used to be plentiful on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, was believed to be down to a single survivor, George. But Jan. 1, George died at about age 14, said Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. His death was symbolic of a steep decline in the population of land snails, once a fantastically diverse group of mollusks in Hawaii, as well as the rapid extinction of species around the world. Scientists estimate that dozens of species go extinct each day.
The snail’s caretakers named him George after the only survivor of the Pinta Island tortoises of the Galápagos. The tortoise, known as Lonesome George, died in 2012.
NASA planet hunter racks up discoveries
NASA’s new planet-hunting machine, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is racking up scores of alien worlds.
Less than a quarter into a two-year search for nearby Earthlike worlds, TESS has already discovered 203 possible planets, said George R. Ricker, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Three already have been confirmed as real planets by ground-based telescopes.
Ricker said the mission was well on track to its goal of finding and measuring the masses of at least 50 planets that are no larger than four times the size of Earth. “The torrent of data has already begun,” he said.
All of these worlds would be located within 300 light-years from here, our cosmic backyard, and close enough to be inspected by future telescopes for signs of atmospheres, habitability and, perhaps, life.