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Tiger touch for India’s newest snail recorded

Perrottetia rajeshgopali, a new species of carnivorous land snail recorded from the northern Western Ghats.   | Photo Credit: Speical Arrangement

A new species of land snail recorded from India has a touch of the tiger.

The “snail of Sahyadri” recorded for the first time from Maharashtra’s northern Western Ghats is carnivorous. But that is not its only indirect link with the big striped cat.

Perrottetia rajeshgopali, the newest chronicled member of the global snail family, is named after one of the country’s top tiger conservationists — Rajesh Gopal, currently the secretary-general of the Global Tiger Forum.

It is the first species of the genus Perrottetia to be described from India in 117 years.

The species has been described in the latest issue of Archiv für Molluskenkunde, a German journal that focuses on molluscs. The paper is one of the first under the ‘snail of Sahyadris’ project of the Mumbai-based Thackeray Wildlife Foundation (TWF).

The study was authored by zoologist Amrut Bhosale of Sadguru Gadage Maharaj College in Maharashtra’s Karad, Tejas Thackeray of TWF and Ben Rowson of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, UK.

The Western Ghats has a phylogenetically diverse land snail fauna, much of which is endemic to the region. About 277 species and 29 varieties belonging to 64 genera and 23 families are reported, 72% of which are endemic.

“Fewer endemic land snails have been reported from the northern and central Western Ghats than the southern part. Perrottetia rajeshgopali was recorded in the course of our survey during the rainy season from July 2015 to August 2020 in a relatively unexplored area of the northern Western Ghats running through the Kolhapur district,” Dr. Bhosale said.

The new snail is a hermaphrodite, and its genital anatomy is characterised by the presence of hooks in the penis and their absence in the vagina and the atrium. Carnivorous land snails are known to have such hooks.

The carnivorous diet of Perrottetia rajeshgopali – it wears a white, glossy and translucent shell and its body is pale yellow with brownish spots and reticulated skin – was observed when it fed on a Eurychlamys platyclamys, a smaller snail.

“The discovery highlights the need for a serious sampling of malacofauna in the Western Ghats and this group is extremely poorly studied and ignored and potentially at the highest risk of extinction due to climate change and other anthropogenic factors,” said Mr. Thackeray.

“It’s high time lesser taxa are studied seriously to amplify the need to protect the Western Ghats from all the factors that threaten this extreme biodiverse landscape,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 9:07:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/tiger-touch-for-indias-newest-snail-recorded/article35092335.ece

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