The Taiwanese Snail Named For Same-Sex Marriage Rights, A.K.A. Aegista Diversifamilia, Is Our All-Time Favorite Snail
We usually associate marriage equality with the rainbow symbol, but thanks to Taiwanese researchers, the LGBT community has a new mascot: the snail. How, you ask, did this one happen? Well, after discovering a new species of hermaphroditic snail, scientists publicly announced Monday they would name it in the honor of same-sex marriage, which is still very illegal in Taiwan.
Given their country's struggle to recognize same-sex unions, along with the struggle of many countries around the world, they decided to dub it Aegista diversifamilia, to reflect the “diversity of sexual orientation in the animal kingdom,” Dr Yen-Chang Lee told the Guardian. He added:
We decided that maybe this is a good occasion to name the snail to remember the struggle for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights.
As weird as it sounds, you have to admit that's pretty cool on their part.
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature’s (say that three times, or even just one time really fast) rules for naming species discourages scientists from picking anything controversial. However, that code isn't heavily enforced, and as long as the name isn't vulgar, you're usually good to go.
But back to the snail. This land snail is endemic to Taiwan, meaning you'll only be able to bask in its rainbow glory if you also have $1,000 for a plane ticket to Taiwan.
It likes to hang out in eastern Taiwan, and it's known, in particular, for its large flat shell. They're also hermaphrodites, meaning they possess both male and female reproductive parts. It is part of an informal group of snails known as Pulmonata, which means air-breathing. All Pulmonata snails are hermaphroditic, and some even make love darts — which are exactly what they sound like.
Aegista diversifamilia isn't alone in being named for special causes. According to the Guardian, a lichen was named after President Barack Obama in honor of his dedication to science education, a spider was named after Angelina Jolie in honor of her work with the United Nations, and several slime molds have been named after George W. Bush. Hooray, science!
Images: Getty, Tumblr