London: Snails can provide a wealth of information about the prevailing weather conditions thousands of years ago, says a new research.
Researchers from the University of York and the Scottish University's Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) analysed the chemistry of snail shells dating back 9,000-2,500 years recovered from Mediterranean caves, looking at humidity at different times in the past.
Their findings revealed that when the first farmers arrived in Italy and Spain, the western Mediterranean was not the hot dry place it is now, but warmer, wetter and stickier, the journal Quaternary International reports.
Andre Carlo Colonese, palaeoecologist from York and co-authors believe that land snails have great potential as a source of information about human behaviour and palaeoclimatic conditions, therefore, should be given much more attention, according to a York statement.
Colonese, Marie Curie Fellow in York's Centre for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins, said: "By putting together research on snails from multiple sites across Spain and Italy, we were able to produce a large scale regional picture for weather conditions over the western Mediterranean area.
"This allowed us to observe differences in climate across the region. Interestingly, when compared with previous studies, we found that while conditions on the Atlantic coast of northern Spain were probably much like those of today, on the Mediterranean side in locations such as southern Spain and Sicily, conditions were much more humid."
By putting together research on snails from multiple sites across Spain and Italy, we were able to produce a large scale regional picture for weather conditions over the western Mediterranean area.