This discovery has capped a five-year-long study that was being conducted in the Western Ghats.
Ending a dry spell of over 100 years in field discovery, a previously unknown and unique snail genus and species has been discovered in Amboli, Sindhudurg district. This discovery has capped a five-year-long detailed study that was being conducted by a group of international researchers in the Western Ghats. Considered "new to science", the genus has been named after Dr. Varad Giri, a renowned herpetologist and a senior scientist with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
About the newly discovered snail
The findings of this discovery have been published in the European Journal of Taxonomy which describes that a "new land mollusc genus and new species" has been found in Amboli, a coastal district bordering Goa. While the genus name of this species honours Dr. Giri, the species name pays a tribute to the Amboli Village, hence, the name is- Varadia Amboliensis.
The lead scientist was quoted saying, "A member of the eupulmonate molluscan group Stylommatophora, this semi-slug is endemic to the northern and central Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are called so because their shells are relatively small compared with their body, and the shell is often partly or almost completely covered by the snail's skin or the mantle, which is also retractable."
Other characteristics of this snail are that it is around 7 cm long, found on forest grounds or trees, feeds on leaf litter or small insects and can be differentiated from other Indian species by its unique external and internal features. Currently recorded in barely 5 localities in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa, the newly discovered snail species is most active at night and stands at a high risk of extinction due to gradual habitat degradation.
About the research team
The lead research scientist for this discovery is Dr. Amrut Bhosale, who started working on this snail during his PhD. Other prominent people involved in it are Dr. Dinarzarde Raheem of London's Natural History Museum, Dr. Christopher Wade of the University of Nottingham, Dr. Ahmed Saadi of the University of Vienna, Aasif Tamboli of South Korea's Kyungpook National University, Dr. D.V. Muley and Suhas Kadam from Shivaji University Kolhapur and Thackeray Wildlife Foundation's, Tejas Thackeray.
Response from Dr. Giri on this discovery
Dr. Giri is a reputed scientist after whom a reptile, 'Dendrepahis Girii' or the Bronzeback tree snake has been named and now adding to the list, is a snail genus. On hearing about this extraordinary discovery, he emphasized the urgent need for a detailed and wide-ranging survey of the snails and slugs that inhabit the Western Ghats. He suggests so, so that more discoveries that are yet unknown to science, can be timely unearthed.
-With inputs from IANS