The snail’s tale …

National Public Radio, August 08, 2007 4:00 PM ET

It’s hard to prove conclusively that a species is extinct, but Gerlach says he’s all but certain that in the late 1990s, the last Aldabra banded snail curled up inside its purplish shell and died. In a paper in the journal Biology Letters, Gerlach lays the blame on an unusual series of summers so long and hot that they killed off all the younger snails.

“So the juveniles just weren’t surviving, and the adults gradually died off,” Gerlach says. “Now we don’t have juveniles or adults.”

Gerlach says he found the proof he needed in shells gathered up by collectors. Smaller shells, once common, disappeared with the frequent long, hot summers. He suspects — but cannot prove — that these bad summers are a side effect of global warming. If he’s right, then this snail has earned itself a grim distinction: It would be the first species in the modern era to become extinct as a direct result of climate change.

All but certain, that would be like 99.999%.

Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 … Good News and a photo.