Prehistoric sea snails zoomed around at 30mph like speed-crazy Theo in hit movie Turbo

PREHISTORIC sea snails zoomed around at nearly 30mph, say scientists — thanks to a form of jet propulsion.

Ammonites, whose coil-shaped shells are found in rocks around the UK, really did behave like speed-crazy Theo in the hit movie Turbo.

The ocean-dwelling molluscs had powerful muscles that pushed them through the water.

It meant that instead of being dumb and sluggish, they were nippy predators of small fish and crustaceans.

Experts made the discovery when scanning a 165 million-year-old ammonite fossil found in Gloucestershire that had well-preserved soft tissue.

Dr Imran Rahman, from London’s Natural History Museum, said: “We were able to recreate it in 3D on a computer for the first time.

“We found ammonites had large, powerful muscles for swimming.

"They used a kind of muscular syphon to eject water out the back, giving them jet propulsion.

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“They would have moved considerably faster than we can.

"It’s exciting to have direct insight into an animal that has been extinct.”

The 2.5in-wide ammonite was buried in layers of sediment very quickly after it died, sealing the shell.

That prevented oxygen and bacteria from getting in to rot the soft tissue.

Ammonites, which became extinct with the dinosaurs 66 million years ago after existing for nearly 150 million years, were previously believed to have manoeuvred using tentacles.

This NHM study suggests they had more in common with the brainy octopus.

The animated 2013 movie Turbo starred Theo — voiced by Ryan Reynolds — who dreamed of becoming the world’s fastest snail.

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