Rare land snails found in Western Ghats

M. Raghuram

BANGALORE: The research co-ordinates of the All India Co-ordinated Project Taxonomy (AICOPTX) in the Western Ghats have reported that they have registered 190 species of land snails and one of them was Cremenoconchus which was the only snail whose origin was traced to the sea.

The AICOPTX unit working in the southern belt of the Western Ghats headed by N.A. Madhyastha has named it as Cremenoconchus Dwaraki Dr. Madhyastha told The Hindu that “it belonged to Litto Rinidae family of snails. Since it was found in the marine waters it went to prove that the Western Ghats was under the sea and sustained the theory of Pangaea. The Cremenoconchus is called the ‘Gondwana Relic’, according to Dr. Madhyastha.

He said the genus of this species found in the Western Ghats was stated to be 80 to 100 million years old.

Dr. Madhyastha said the genus was found at Hulikal Ghat in Kanataka and Khandala in Maharashtra.

The last registry on land snails was done a century ago by the British. It was called “Fauna of British India”, Dr. Madhyastha said the researchers then were unable to locate various species in the Western Ghats that stretched to a distance of 1,600 km. The forests were much denser those days and the researchers might not have had access to interior areas and might have missed many other species. But in the recent years, many dense forests had opened up and many species were available for sampling.

“I could go to areas where the British experts could not go a 100 years ago and see and sample many more types of snails” Dr. Madhyastha said.

He said “in the genus of Cremonoconchus I have seen a high propensity to survive even in the most hostile conditions and out of its natural habitat. Perhaps with the biotechnology tools available in the modern science it was possible to isolate the genes and use them in some applications in the future”.

He said these small animals need to be brought under a regular biodiversity protection programme. “The largest number of extinction has been in molluscs and slugs as they were slow moving which made their habitat smaller and any sudden imbalance or alteration in the habitat will destroy their existence,” he added. Dr. Madhyastha said the Fauna of British India had 240 species and many of them were not found now which might be partly due to extinction or due to erroneous sample collection or due to the fact that the collection protocol was too scanty.

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