Escargot Faces Extinction From Flatworm Predator Invasion

Image: Escargot Faces Extinction From Flatworm Predator Invasion

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 09:57 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The French delicacy escargot may soon be hard to find as the European snail population faces extinction.

Snails, which in France are often cooked in butter and garlic and served as escargot, have become the target of an invasive species, the New Guinea flatworm Platydemus manokwari, which has recently emerged in Europe, Agence France-Presse reported.

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"Platydemus manokwari represents a new and significant threat to biodiversity in France and Europe, which hosts hundreds of species of snails, some of which are endangered and protected," PeerJ, a publisher of peer-reviewed studies, reported Tuesday. "It is therefore important to consider the implementation of eradication and control of this flatworm."

Experts say the flatworm has the potential to render all European snails totally extinct.

"This species is extraordinarily invasive," Jean-Lou Justine of the National Museum of Natural History told AFP. "I really hope it can be stopped at the earliest stages . . . All snails in Europe could be wiped out. It may seem ironic, but it's worth pointing out the effect that this will have on French cooking."

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