Ancient Celts Carried Snails from France to Ireland

Ancient Celts Carried Snails from France to Ireland

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It seems as though ancient Irish people feasted upon snails. In fact they were carried from France to Ireland as a little picnic snack for the journey.

It has been recntly discovered that some snails in Ireland are almost identical to snails found in the Pyrenees. Because the distance is just way too far for the snails to have got there themselves, this has posed new questions for scientists. And a conclusion has been reached: The little guys were carried across the Atlantic during human migration 8000 years ago.

In fact, researcher Angus Davison from the University of Nottingham, UK says that this pretty much ties in with with studies of human genetics and the colonisation of Ireland.

Ancient Celts Carried Snails from France to Ireland

Genetic markers in banded wood snails in Ireland and France reveal ancient human migrations. CREDIT: Lauren Holden

Despite being thousands of miles apart, one variety of banded wood snails from Ireland and southern France share similar shell patterns and mitochondrial genes that are rarely seen in other areas of Europe. Davison explains, “There is a very clear pattern, which is difficult to explain except by involving humans. If the snails naturally colonised Ireland, you would expect to find some of the same genetic type in other areas of Europe, especially Britain. We just don’t find them.”

He adds, “There are records of Mesolithic or Stone Age humans eating snails in the Pyrenees, and perhaps even farming them. The highways of the past were rivers and the ocean – as the river that flanks the Pyrenees was an ancient trade route to the Atlantic, what we’re actually seeing might be the long lasting legacy of snails that hitched a ride, accidentally or perhaps as food, as humans travelled from the South of France to Ireland 8,000 years ago.”

Perhaps we should go back to our roots and fry up some of these little guys! Yummy!

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