Research at Britain's Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough has shown that snails found in the Libyan Desert contain drinkable fluid on which a stranded aircrew should survive.
SV Signboard "THE EMPIRE TEST PILOTS SCHOOL MINISTRY OF AVIATION"
CU Of snail
CU Hand, picking snails out of tray
CU FLt.Lt. Billingham
SV DITTO, picks up snails, places on table 0.28
CU Snail in Flt.Lt. Billingham's hand
SV Snail being crushed
SCU Liquid falling into glass
SV Flt.Lt. Billingham picks up glass
CU DITTO, drinks liquid in glass
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Background: Research at Britain's Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough has shown that snails found in the Libyan Desert contain drinkable fluid on which a stranded aircrew should survive. In a demonstration at the Institute August 10, Flight Lieutenant John Billingham crushed a snail until liquid fell into a glass, and drank it.
Lieutenant Billingham recently lived for four days on snail fluid alone. He consumed four pints daily taken from 1,100 snails, and spent six hours each day in a chamber at a temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate the desert climate.
The snail species found by the million in the Libyan Desert are known as "Eremina Ehrenbergi Roth", or "Libyan Lillywhites". An instructor on an R.A.F. Middle East survival course at El Adem - Squadron Leader J. Spencer - was responsible for noticing that the snails contained fluid and might prove drinkable. The fluid is the snail's haemolymph, or blood, and was found to be diluted enough to serve as source of water. It also contains protein.
"The taste was rather fishy", said 30-year-old Flight Lieutenant Billingham - "But a man dying of thirst would be glad to drink anything".