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What A Snail!

There are things about the island of Cuba that don’t make the news—for example, it has the world’s largest biodiversity of snails.

The painted snail, polymita, is one of the most beautiful invertebrates on Earth and found only on this Caribbean island. Its shell is a wondrous spiral—all in colors of peach, lemon-lime, vermillion, blood orange, red ochre, and even pink. Unfortunately the illegal wildlife trade has brought all six species of polymita to the point of being critically endangered, as recommended by Cuban wildlife researchers.

In their natural environment, the painted snails live in trees and shrubs devouring mineral-rich moss and lichen, the source of their brilliant colors. Their incessant eating of this vegetation help keep trees healthy, including on coffee farms—a huge part of the Cuban economy.

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