A newly identified species of land snail has been discovered in the southeast island nation of Brunei by a group of citizen scientists. Its sensitivity to drought, temperature extremes, and forest degradation sparked a creative namesake for the mollusk: Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, named for the famous Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
“We name this species in honor of the young climate activist Greta Thunberg, because caenogastropod microsnails from tropical rainforests, like this new species, are very sensitive to the droughts and temperature extremes that are likely to be more frequent as climate change continues,” write the researchers in Biodiversity Data Journal.
- C. gretathunbergae was discovered by participants of Taxon Expeditions, a company that organizes scientific trips for citizen scientists, during a field course near the northern Borneo research facility Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre. All of the specimens were found at the foot of a steep hill next to a riverbank and are characterized by a high spiraling conical shell. This group of land snails are important to the Bornean ecosystem but may be threatened due to their environmental sensitivities – much like future generations of global species facing climate change impacts.
"Naming this snail after Greta Thunberg is our way of acknowledging that her generation will be responsible for fixing problems that they did not create. And it's a promise that people from all generations will join her to help,” said citizen scientist J.P. Lim, who found the first individual snail, in a statement. In addition to the snail namesake, Thunberg has been named Time's 2019 person of the year and had a new species of beetle named after her.
So far, the team notes that they have recorded over 25 species of snail but expect there could be as many as 85.
“Taxon expeditions are a new concept in which a group of taxonomic experts and laypeople work together in a hybrid work form of field course and biodiversity discovery expedition to discover unknown species from a given area,” write the authors.