Ten Snail Species With Colorful Coiled Shells Discovered in West-Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand

Posted on March 29, 2014

Plectostoma laidlawi


Ten new snail species with colorful coiled shells have been discovered in West-Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand. The Malaysian-Dutch team of biologists who found the snails calls them Malaysian microjewels. The researchers say some of the pretty snails are already on the verge of going extinct. Plectostoma laidlawi is pictured above and Plectostoma salpidomon is pictured below. Both of the pictured snails were found on living in microvegetation on limestone in Malaysia.

Plectostoma salpidomon


The study was led by PhD student Thor-Seng Liew of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, The Netherlands. He spent four years studying the distribution, shell shape, and genetics of the tiny snails. The tiny snails have shell sizes as small as 2 millimeters. The snails belong to the snail genus Plectostoma. Liew used a micro-CT-scanner to investigate the exact shapes of the shells. This allowed him to recognize 31 species, ten of which are new to science.

Liew says, "First of all, they flaunt all shell-coiling rules, by having very irregularly coiled and ornamented shells, making them look like microjewelry."

A research paper on the snails was published here in ZooKeys.

Photos: Thor-Seng Liew