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Researchers discover new snail species in Panama

By
Tauren Dyson
This is a close-up view of live individuals crawling on a leaf. Photo by Adrien Favre
This is a close-up view of live individuals crawling on a leaf. Photo by Adrien Favre

Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Researchers from the Museum of Natural History Museum in Bern, or NMBE, recently discovered a new species of snail in Panama.

A study, published Monday in ZooKeys, says the discovery of the tiny Carychium panamaense thorn snail is the second to be uncovered in the Central American country.

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The new snail, along with the first discovered Panamanian thorn snail, the C. zarzaae, live in the La Amistad International Park, Chiriquí.

Identifying the new snail required more than simply analyzing its DNA bar code. Pegging the new thorn snail species required a non-invasive method gentle enough to protect its fragile 2mm frame.

To identify the Carychium, Adrienne Jochum of the NMBE and her team of researchers used a CT scan to examine the alignment of the lamella on its columella, rather than the typical identification method of drilling holes into the snail's shell.

"This miserable method requires much patience and dexterity and all too often, the shell springs open into oblivion or disintegrates into dust under pressure," Jochum said. "By exposing the delicate lamella using non-manipulative CT imaging, valuable shell material is conserved and unknown diversity in thorn snails becomes widely accessible for further study and subsequent conservation measures."

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