New Land Snail Species Discovered in Western Australia

Posted on April 28, 2016

Bothriembryon sophiarum

A new land snail species has been discovered in Australia. It was recognized as a new species by its genitalia. It was identified by scientists Corey Whisson, Western Australian Museum, and Dr Abraham Breure, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, the Netherlands, and Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium.

The snail has a slender high-spired shell. The shell helps it move easily through narrow cracks and fissures in its rocky limestone habitat of the Baxter Cliffs and Hampton Ranges in Western Australia. It is predominantly cream in color with reddish and greyish brown blotches. The snail was named Bothriembryon sophiarum after Dr Abraham Breure's wife Sophie J. Breure and Corey Whisson's first daughter Sophie Jade Whisson.

The scientists were able to describe the species without damaging the specimen. They used micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and reconstruction with specialized software. This process uses X-rays to create cross-sections of the genitalia, so that a 3D model can be created without damaging the specimen.

The authors note that it is an approach that is "quite laborious." Dr. Abraham Breure says, "However, in the case of a single or just a few specimens, this may be an alternative to destructive dissection."

A research paper on the new species was published here in the journal, ZooKeys.

Photo: Dr Abraham S.H. Breure