Consider the plight of poor Discus macclintocki. Actually, in this story, both of them: snails. A pair of lovers that would eventually become bit players in a Hollywood movie starring Russell Crowe.
Now an endangered species living mostly in Iowa, the two particular snails we’re speaking of are even more endangered at the moment, because they’ve just stepped… err… slithered, off the long plank of an ark that’s come to rest on Mount Ararat in what’s now modern day Turkey.
These two snails are having a bad day. It’s a 20 hour, 35 minute flight to the closest airport near the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa (the only place we know they can survive) but airplanes won’t be invented for several thousand more years.
There are no buses or cars either. Not that a snail could drive. They could hitch a ride, but the only boat in existence has just been ditched on a mountain, where it will be found, unmoved, in multiple locations, over and over again, thousands of years later (6).
These snails need to get to Iowa, and they need to get there in a hurry. They can’t survive harsh temperatures, requiring a cool habitat such as the north-facing talus slopes of their eventual home, where the ground temperature rarely exceeds 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) thanks to underground ice caves that don’t exist where they’ve just been stranded, or anywhere along the route they must travel (4).
Another problem for Discus macclintocki is that there is no food for the journey. These snails feed mainly on leaf litter, but a global flood has just destroyed all life on the planet. The flood lasted for over a year (1) (2), so there’s no leaf litter left behind — it’s all soaked up and rotted away.
Hopefully, some type of miracle will happen and there will be leaf litter available when the snails reach Iowa, but they’re going to have to move fast. They’ve got at least 6,200 miles (10,050km) to cover (8).
The problem is, snails don’t move fast. They’re lucky they weren’t trampled by the elephants and other animals coming down the gangplank of the ark. References from hypertextbook.com have snails moving between 0.013 meters per second (fast) to 0.0028 meters per second (slow) (6). Let’s ignore for the moment that we have an ark full of hungry creatures that would love to feed on these slow-moving snails…
And let’s be generous and say that Discus macclintocki is a speed demon and moves at the faster rate, 0.013 meters per second. If this pair of snails doesn’t stop to eat, go to the bathroom, mate, or smell the roses, they can cover the 10,050 kilometers in 24.497 years.
24 years to make the journey to Iowa with no food, traveling non-stop. But there’s a problem.
The life span of Discus macclintocki is 5 to 7 years (3).
So maybe the snails, realizing they were never going to make it to the promised land, decided to stop and breed and let a future generation complete the journey.
But there’s a problem.
These snails reproduce by laying eggs in leaf litter, and require a cool habitat (~ 50 degrees F), and none of this exists where they’re stranded.
But let’s pretend a miracle happened, and the snails somehow found food and somehow survived the post-flood temperatures, and somehow lived much longer than the 5 to 7 years required to make the 24 year journey to Iowa. But…
You guessed it: there’s a problem.
It’s name is the Atlantic Ocean.
You see, snails breathe air, and they don’t swim.
(1) Yes, Noah’s Flood May Have Happened, But Not Over the Whole Earth
(2) How Long did the flood last?
(3) Iowa Pleistocene Snail (Discus macclintocki)
(4) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Discus macclintocki
(5) Speed of a Snail (The Physics Factbook)
(6) Noah’s Ark Found in Turkey?
(7) WordPress Ready, Set, Done PingBack Link
(8) Latitude, Longitude, Distance Calculations
39.7019° N, 44.2983° E (Mt. Ararat)
42.4981° N, 96.3956° W (Sioux City, IA)
Distance 10050 km (6,244.78 miles)