What Color of Dye Came from Rotting Snails?

Tyrian purple, or royal purple, was made in ancient Rome by boiling dead Murex, a type of sea snail. The snails themselves are not purple, but were harvested for their mucous secretion. In order to create the intense purple, thousands of snails were boiled in giant lead vats for several days. It took roughly 10,000 snails to make a gram of dye. Once the color was made, it could be made brighter with sunlight and did not fade easily.

Other uses for snails:

  • Scientists are researching the benefits of cone snail venom to treat patients with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and depression. In 2004, Prialt, a pain reliever derived from cone snail toxin, was FDA approved.

  • In Ancient Greece, snail and slug slime was used as a treatment to relieve inflamed skin.

  • Decollate snails have been used in agriculture as a biological pest control. These types of snails will eat other unwanted garden snails that consume crops. However, decollate snail will also eat other gastropods that might be necessary to the development of other plants in the region.

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More Info: New York Times

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