A colony of Mediterranean snails has been found at the UK's Cliveden House, where they have lived in marble-wrapped secrecy for a century.The traveler, Papillifera papillaris, belongs to the family Clausiliidae. In Europe, clausiliids are found mainly in the south and east. Only about half a dozen species are native to Britain.
The snails, never found before in the UK, apparently came from Italy in a balustrade bought by a Lord Astor, a former owner of the mansion.
They are characterized by long, tapering, sinistral shells that bear a sculpture of fine ridges. The aperture usually has ribs and teeth. Inside the shell is a unique structure — the clausilium — which is a spoon-shaped flap that blocks the entrance when the snail retracts. While the snail is active, the clausilium is tucked away in a groove in the shell wall.
This follows the (relatively) recent discovery of a new species of slug in Wales.
"… were found by a specialist volunteer who helps us clean the statuary in Cliveden," said the Trust's nature conservation advisor Mathew Oates.Aydin at Snail's Tales blogged on the possible dispersal of clausillids by birds. So here's another way they can get around!
"He went to a talk at the local archaeological society given by a snail specialist, mentioned his find, and it turned out he'd spotted the colony which had almost certainly been there since 1896," he told BBC News.
ETA: Aydin reports this is old news.
Shakes fist at Broadcasting House.
Damn you, BBC!
Also regrets lost opportunity to make joke about John Profumo at Cliveden House.