Thursday, 21 August 2008

Yet more molluscs in the UK

Cool story from the UK. (HT to Mosura.)

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 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.
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.

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.

The snails
"… were found by a specialist volunteer who helps us clean the statuary in Cliveden," said the Trust's nature conservation advisor Mathew Oates.

"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.
Aydin at Snail's Tales blogged on the possible dispersal of clausillids by birds. So here's another way they can get around!


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.


Mosura said...

The story must have fallen down behind the BBC filing cabinet.

You know I looked closely at that snail for quite a while and didn't even notice it was sinistral. Very observant am I not.

Duncan said...

Shakes fist at Broadcasting House.

Damn you, BBC!

That has distinct Goonish overtones Snail. :-)

Robert Nordsieck said...

I was wondering: Why do they write the species was "unknown to naturalists" when it was in Brownsea since 1993? And Papillifera bidens is not a particularly unknown species, more likely a quite well known one, which, unusual for a door snail is a) frequent, b) widely distributed and c) very often associated to human settlements?!
Very funny also the discussion about "Should it be called the Brownsea snail or the Cliveden snail" and at the same time the scholars quarreling about the scientific name...
I do not understand the (malacological) world....
Kind regards

Snail said...

The Media often claim that things we've all known about for ages are 'new'. (Not that I knew about this, so I'm speaking on behalf of other people.)

I don't understand the malacological world either. Welcome to the club!