A new species of land snail, previously unknown to science, was discovered by a group of citizen scientists. They were working together with scientists from Taxon Expeditions, a company that organizes scientific field trips for teams consisting of both scientists and laypeople. Having conducted a vote on how to name the species, the expedition participants and the local staff of the National Park together decided to name the mollusc Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. The species name honors the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg for her efforts to raise awareness about climate change. The study is published in the open access journal Biodiversity Data Journal.
“The newly described snail belongs to the so-called caenogastropods, a group of land snails known to be sensitive to drought, temperature extremes, and forest degradation”, says snail expert and co-founder of Taxon Expeditions, Dr. Menno Schilthuizen. All individuals were found very close to the research field station (Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre) at the foot of a steep hill-slope, next to a riverbank, while foraging at night on the green leaves of understorey plants.
Citizen scientist J.P. Lim, who found the first individual of Greta Thunberg’s snail says: “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”.
The expedition team approached Ms. Thunberg,
who said that she would be “delighted” to have this species named after her.
However, this is not the first time that Taxon Expeditions team names a species in honor of an environmental advocate. In 2018, they named a new species of beetle after the famous actor and climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Mr. DiCaprio temporarily changed his profile photo on Facebook to the photo of “his” beetle to acknowledge this honor.
Reference: “Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, a new species of Cyclophoridae (Gastropoda: Caenogastropoda), discovered and described on a field course to Kuala Belalong rainforest, Brunei” by Menno Schilthuizen, Jonathan P Lim, Anthonie D. P. van Peursen, Massimiliano Alfano, Awang Bikas Jenging, Daniele Cicuzza, Alexandre Escoubas, Pierre Escoubas, Ulmar Grafe, Jamil Ja, Peter Koomen, Aleks Krotoski, Denise Lavezzari, Laura Lim, Rudie Maarschall, Ferry Slik, Derek Steele, Dennis Teck Wah Ting, Ine van Zeeland and Iva Njunjić, 20 February 2020, Biodiversity Data Journal.