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Aussies puzzled by little-known creature washed ashore

A strange alien-like creature has left Aussies stumped and the truth of what it is may be almost stranger than fiction.

Aussies have come out en masse to marvel at an other-worldly beach find that has left hundreds guessing what it could be.

The slimy-looking, slightly translucent mound attached to a small rock was found at a beach in Point Peron, Western Australia.

"I found this washed up on the shore. Was wondering if someone could ID!" a beachgoer shared on a marine identification Facebook page.

Aussies guess the creature is not from earth

Sprinkled between guesses of teenage mutant ninja turtle gear, dragon scales, and Pokemon were those who had legitimate ideas on what the unknown mass could be.

"Egg case of a southern baler shell, Melo miltonis," said one person.

"An egg casing of a mollusc," guessed another.

Others were completely unimpressed that someone would pick up a potentially dangerous or poisonous ocean creature without knowing what it could be.

"It's called a don't touch if you don't know!!" a concerned citizen wrote.

Do you have a story about a weird beach find? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at laura.koefoed@yahooinc.com

Image of a Syrinx aruana (Linnaeus, 1758), otherwise known as the Australian trumpet, on sand.
Syrinx aruana (Linnaeus, 1758), otherwise known as the Australian trumpet, is the largest living snail. Source: Getty

What is it, really?

Many in the comments thought this funny-looking specimen looked to be the empty egg casing of a Baler shell, though expert, Professor Fred Wells, believes the egg mass is from the snail Syrinx aruana (Linnaeus, 1758), otherwise known as the Australian trumpet.

"This is the largest living gastropod in the world, reaching a length of 90 cm," he told Yahoo News Australia. "[Though] we know very little about it".

These snails, whose size suggests they have a long lifespan — probably decades — can be uncommon to find because populations of recently emerged, young snails in shallow water are easily wiped out by people collecting them.

Where are they found?

The Australian trumpet snail is found in most of Western Australia, starting from the bottom of the west coast, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

"We tend to think of the species as Australian, but the name refers to the Aru Islands of Indonesia," Wells explained.

The egg casing holds young snails

The young develop in the egg capsules before emerging as crawling snails, just several centimetres long.

But, this is the extent of what is known about these eggs, as experts still do not know how long it takes for the young snails to develop in the egg case or when these snails reproduce.

Is the Australian trumpet poisonous?

These creatures and their egg casings are not poisonous and can be touched, though it's not recommended that you, or your pets, consume the casing or snail if you find one on the beach.

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Yahoo Australia