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New Snail Species Are a Good Sign

New Snail Species Are a Good Sign

Australian scientists from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment discovered ten new land snail species in the Northern Territory near the Victoria River. A survey of remote pastoral lands was conducted. The areas were difficult to reach so a helicopter was employed to make the work easier.

Dr. Michael Braby, an entomologist with a museum in the Northern Territory, said, “It seems fitting that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity because we uncovered 10 species that have never been collected before; these snails are all undescribed and therefore new to science.” (Source: Brisbane Times)

He also explained land snails are a good indicator of environmental health as they are impacted by overgrazing, fire and invasive grasses. In other words, a decline in their populations could signal the a whole land area has been damaged. In a sense, they provide a valuable service to their environments and to scientists who can interpret such signals. Snails have also been used to determine metal levels, such as lead in urban environments. The value snails have as an indicator species contradicts the general view they are just pests. After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, a snail survey was conducted using the idea that snails could be an indicator species for the environment of lowland Sri Lanka.

Snails also provide food for birds, and recycle nutrients back into the soil which helps keep it fertile. The point of the Australian researcher’s survey was to help collect data about the species living in the area so they can be better conserved. A snail overview from Oregon State University says there are 40,000 snail species worldwide.

Image Credit: Vince Kessner

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42 comments

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8:13AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

great news

6:50PM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

I love snails. . . as a little girl I use to gather them up and then play school while all my sisters were at school. I was not yet old enough to go to school. I had a lot of critter friends when my sisters went to school.

11:00AM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

once again proves we do not know it all. Good news.

11:09AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Snails are cute.

3:20AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Great news!!! Snail is too cute:)

2:43PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks Jake.

2:40PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks Jake.

10:10AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

oool

11:02PM PST on Jan 24, 2011

I hope men will not invade this last pritine land....

10:27AM PST on Jan 16, 2011

Go Vegan!

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