Oceans cover about 70% of planet Earth’s surface, and yet a whopping 95% of their secrets remains unknown – and that especially is true of the deepest points. We know more about space than our own oceans. If you go way, way down, huddled around hydrothermal vents that spit out water superheated by Earth’s magma, lives one of the hardiest creatures around. The Chrysomallon squamiferum, a type of snail, is hiding some pretty awesome survival tricks.
The scaly-footed gastropod is one little snail. He’s adapted all sort of crazy tools for living in the depths. His shell is actually decked out in a layer of iron, and those little frilly parts surrounding him are mineralized scales made of iron sulfide. He is literally wearing a suit of armor. The rest of his shell is made from pyrite, more commonly referred to as “fool’s gold,” and is actually magnetic. The metals in the shell come from the mineral-rich undersea vents on which these unique snails live. Their body armor is so formidable that the United States military is studying it in hopes of developing new technology for soldiers and vehicles. They’re like tiny tanks. These little guys were first discovered in 2001, approx. 1.25 miles underneath the Indian Ocean. Did we mention they’re magnetic?