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Thursday, September 26, 2013

A brand new see-through snail


If you’re willing to spelunk deep inside a Croatian cave, you just might find a specimen of a newly discovered see-through snail dubbed Zospeum tholussum.
Zospeum tholussum, 2013. 
Credit: Alexander M. Weigand

Alexander Weigand discovered the snail nearly a thousand meters below the surface in the Lukina Jama-Trojama cave system in the Velebit mountain range of Croatia. I’m not sure whether exploring this cave system would be more likely to give me vertigo, claustrophobia or acrophobia. But you can judge for yourself.


The Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system. 
Overview of the geographical position and 3D cave cross-section. 
(1) the region of collected shells
(2) the collection site of the living specimen of Zospeum tholussum
The 3D cross-section was provided by D. Bakšić et al. (2010), Croatian Speleological Server, http://www.speleologija.hr/lukinajama
Photos were taken by J. Bedek.

On the other hand, given that the snail lives in a pitch dark environment that’s just above freezing with 100% humidity, maybe hypothermia would be a safer bet. 

Luckily, scientists like Weigand aren’t as delicate as I am.


Alexander M. Weigand (2013). New Zospeum species (Gastropoda, Ellobioidea, Carychiidae) from 980 m depth in the Lukina Jama – Trojama cave system (Velebit Mts., Croatia) Subterranean Biology (11), 45-53 DOI: 10.3897/subtbiol.11.5966.