The scaly-foot snail is the only creature known to incorporate iron in its skeleton
It survives high temperatures and high pressures of underwater volcanic vents
Decoding its genome for the first time could revel secrets of life's early evolution
Their resilient iron-coated shells may also develop stronger protective armour
The mystery of the volcano-dwelling snail and its iron shell has been unravelled by scientists after its genome was decoded for the first time.
The scaly-foot snail (Chrysomallon squamiferum) survives in what researchers have called the 'impossible living conditions' of underwater volcanic vents.
Enduring searing temperatures, high pressure, strong acidity and low oxygen, it is the only living creature known to incorporate iron into its skeleton.
Studying it will reveal the secrets of how early life evolved, scientists hope, as well as unlocking its 'huge potential' for medicine and other applications.
And now a team at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has made a breakthrough, decoding its genome for the first time.
The team identified 25 'transcription factors' proteins that directly interpret the genome that contribute to the production of tissue-stiffening minerals.
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