New snail species found on Agulhas Plain


A snail that is new to science has been discovered on the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (NWSMA), an ABI partner. The Chondrocyclus species was discovered by researchers from the East London Museum. The tiny snail lives in indigenous forests, and is no threat to agricultural crops.


According to Mary Cole, Malacologist from the East London Museum, the Chondrocyclus species found in the NWSMA is genetically related to specimens from other areas of the Agulhas Plain, including those found in the Platbos Forest and on Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.


Gene testing is now determining whether the snails found on the NWSMA and other areas of the Plain are a separate species to those found in the Langeberg mountains. Cole says that either way, these specimens represent at least one new species endemic to a small geographical area in the Western Cape.


Various Chondrocyclus species are found in forests throughout the Western Cape. The Chondrocyclus convexiusculus was the first species in the genus to be described from the Cape Peninsula, in 1855. This species is also related to specimens found at the Kogelberg and the DuToitskloof.


Cole says these species have the potential to contribute much information to studies of the biogeography of the region.


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