New snail species named after wildlife warrior

Scientists have used DNA testing to discover four species of snail, with one named after wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin.

Robert Irwin’s banded snail, with the scientific name figuladra robertirwini, is one of four newly discovered species.

Others were the seaforth banded snail and dundowran banded snail, both named after early Queensland settlers.

Another species – the bundabergh banded snail is colloquially known as the “suitcase snail” because scientists found large numbers in a discarded suitcase.

The snails are among 15 species of the figuladra group identified by Queensland Museum scientists.

This group of snails is found in dry vine thicket between the Mary River in southeast Queensland, as far north as the O’Connell River, near Proserpine.

They have been a source of confusion for scientists over the past four decades, with shells used as the primary identification tool.

The latest study instead used 270 dissections of snail reproductive structures and DNA analysis for more accurate identification of the species.

Conservationist and TV personality Irwin is the son of the late Steve Irwin, who was known around the world as the crocodile hunter.

Queensland Museum’s Lorelle Stanisic said land snails were important indicators of the health of their habitat, calling for conservation efforts for the creatures.

“Land snails generally coexist with other invertebrates and the destruction of their habitat affects what I would consider the hidden engine room of our forests,” she said.

“Land snail conservation should be a high priority.”

Dr Stanisic undertook the DNA analysis alongside John Stanisic and the Australian Museum’s Frank Kohler.

Their findings have been published in the journal Molluscan Research.


Keira Jenkins
(Australian Associated Press)


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