Two New Glass Snail Species Discovered in Spanish Caves

Posted on March 10, 2015

Zospeum vasconicum

Two new species of tiny glass snails have been discovered in Spanish caves. The snail species are both types of Thorn Snails. They are less than 2mm in size and are some of the smallest terrestrial snails known. The two new species are named Zospeum vasconicum and Zospeum zaldivarae. The glassy shells of Zospeum vasconicum are pictured above.

The snails were discovered by an international team of scientists including Adrienne Jochum and Alexander Weigand from Germany, Rajko Slapnik and Jana Valentincic from Slovenia and Carlos Prieto and Benjamín Gomez from Spain. The new species belong to the first recorded live Zospeum populations from Spain. The discover of live individuals is rare as it usually only shells that are found. The scientists say there are about 20 species of these types of snails found in caves from Northern Spain to the Dinaric Alps of former Yugoslavia. These snails were found residing in muddy cave walls in caves underneath the Basque-Cantabrian Mountians. A Thorn Snail relative of these newly discovered Spanish species was found two years ago in a 950 meter chasm in Croatia.

The photograph below shows the scientists hunting for snails in a cave in northern Spain. A research paper on the new Spanish glass snail species can be found here in the journal, ZooKeys.

Scientists hunt for snails in a cave in northern Spain

Photo: Adrienne Jochum

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