Meet Partula hyalina. This white-shelled snail is native to the island of Tahiti.
Invasive snails, namely the giant African land snail and rosy wolf snail (pictured below), have hunted P. hyalina and other native species for decades.
However, P. hyalina is remarkably good at evading its predators.
Scientists were unsure why the snail is so resilient — until they employed the help of one of the smallest computers in the world.
University of Michigan
That same University of Michigan team later created an even smaller device that debuted in 2018. Today, it holds the title of the world’s smallest computer.
Here it is next to a grain of rice:
Monitoring snails on Tahiti was the Micro Mote’s first in-the-field research job.
Researchers fitted the micro-computer to the shells of invasive snails and tracked their movements around the island.
Demic via Giphy
P. hylania’s light-colored shells are able to tolerate more heat than their predators’ — protecting them from the sun and from predators who can’t stand the heat.
But if it weren’t for the mini computers, this mystery may have never been solved.
Matthew Butler via Giphy
Micro-technology could help scientists dig up even more secrets about our world in the future. The computer’s creators are interested in applications ranging from cancer studies to oil reservoir monitoring.
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