Since Elon Musk launched his tunnelling project, The Boring Company, in late 2016, he has often said that his goal is for his boring machines to outpace his pet snail, Gary, in a race.
"We want to beat Gary," Musk announced last year. "Victory will be beating the snail."
But here at Gizmodo, we have been very concerned about Gary's well-being and whereabouts. The idea of lil ol' Gary being forced to race against a giant tunnelling machine is a little disturbing, and we just want to make sure our small, slimy buddy is gonna be ok.
Last night, Musk brought Gary - or a snail alleged to be Gary, I should say - on stage with him at a Boring Company information session in Los Angeles. This is our first Gary sighting in several months, so it's very exciting!
— Jack Stewart (@stewart_jack) May 18, 2018
However, I'm not entirely sure that this snail is Gary. In fact, it's possible that The Boring Company has burned through several Garys at this point.
This intel comes from an eagle-eyed tipster who follows Musk and his family members on Instagram, and emailed me last month with the shocking news that the original Gary might be dead.
"It appears to be that Gary is dead; Gary the IV (the fourth!!! What happened to the first three?!) is the current successor of the original snail we've come to know and love," the tipster wrote. "How I got this information? Earlier this week I looked at Kimbal Musk's Instagram, and saw he posted a picture of himself at The Boring Company. His mother Maye, being the lovely mother she is, asked if he saw Gary while he was there. His reply? 'Gary the IV!'"
I emailed a spokesperson for The Boring Company in mid-April to ask why the company is on its fourth Gary, and what happened to Garys one through three. I have yet to receive a response, but will update this story if I do.
I've also attempted to investigate the race conditions that Gary will be subjected to when he goes head-to-head against the boring machine. Paul Callomon, the collection manager of malacology, invertebrate paleontology and general invertebrates at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, told me in August that Gary probably wouldn't know he was participating in a race, and so he would not suffer any psychological stress. However, a rocky or bumpy surface - like a tunnel carved by a giant machine - might not be the ideal racing surface for a creature that travels on a trail of slime.
Musk and The Boring Company have mostly withheld details about Gary, choosing to keep his whereabouts and racing abilities a secret. "Some things need no explanation," Musk tweeted last night. "His name is Gary & he's a snail."
However, it appears that either Gary is speeding up - perhaps because he's been replaced by a younger, speedier snail - or The Boring Company is slowing down. Last year, Musk said that Gary was capable of going 14 times faster than his boring machine; however, he announced last night that Gary is currently travelling 15 times faster than the company's current product.
But The Boring Company is right behind you at 1/15th your speed & soon will be 1/10th! Start sweating …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 18, 2018