George The Lonely Snail Has Died And Now His Species Is Extinct

The world has said goodbye George the lonely snail who died at the grand old age of 14.

As many celebrated going into a new year, George, the last of his species - the Achatinella apexfulva - said goodbye to life and the Hawaiian tree snail became extinct.

George was born in the safe captivity of the University of Hawaii, in Mānoa, and lived his best life serving as an ambassador for plight of the Hawaiian land snails.

In his 14 years he appeared in many newspapers and magazines and, although he was lonely - being the last of his kind - he was visited by hundreds of school children all eager to meet him.

During his life, researchers looked in vain for the possibility of another one of George's species in hopes of a breeding pair.

Though George was referred to as a 'he', the Achatinella apexfulva are actually hermaphrodites, but still need two adults to produce offspring.

Credit: Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources)
Credit: Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources)

However, some scientists believe - even with George gone - this may not quite be the end of the Achatinella apexfulva.

Cloning is becoming more possible and may be the next step to bring George back - or, at least his species.

Along with a heartfelt farewell message to the snail, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) explained during George's life they took a life sample of him for possible cloning.

The posted: "In 2017, a small two-millimetre snippet of George's foot was collected, using a sterile razor blade, and plopped into a vial of pink-coloured media. This media kept the tissue alive while it was quickly mailed overnight to San Diego.

"This snippet of living tissue from George now remains alive in a deep freeze at the San Diego Zoo's Frozen Zoo. While it is currently not possible to clone a snail, it certainly will be some day."

Although, we know cloning can be a slippery slope - they start off with snails and next thing you know we have a real life version of Jurassic Park.

Even with hopes of cloning, researchers believe George's passing may just be the start of other species of tree snail slipping away and becoming extinct due to threats from other invasive species' and climate change.

Featured Image Credit: Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources)/PA

Rachael Grealish

Rachael is a NCTJ qualified journalist from West Cumbria, with a passion for news, features and journalism. Outside of work Rachael loves plenty of coffee, running and reading.

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