New species of snails and plants discovered

The list includes three new snail species and a flower

 l Usha Drukpa,  Thimphu


Three species of snails, new to science, were discovered and described from Bhutan by the researchers from the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC), Serbithang, Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Naturalis), Netherlands and Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER), Bumthang.

The three newly described species were Rahula kleini Gittenberger, Rahula trongsaensis Gittenberger, and Erhaiawangchuki Gittenberger.

As of July 2017, the total snails and slugs (Molluscs) of Bhutan stand at 120 species. However, researchers expect that the number could be close to 200, because nearly every new locality brings in one or more species, either new to science or new record for Bhutan.

Rahula kleini was collected in 2015 from Mongar Dzongkhag. This tiny shell measures at 3×2.7mm. The shells are globular conical, 3mm high, with radial riblets covering the entire teleoconch.

Rahula trongsaensis was named after Trongsa Dzongkhag as the species was found in Trongsa. R. trongsaensis is smaller than R. kleini, measuring about 2.3×1.9mm. The shells of R. trongsaensis are conical, with radial riblets only above the sharp peripheral keel with narrow umbilicus.

According to the researchers, these species are expected to be found in India as well.

Erhaia wangchuki was collected accidently from Thimphu last year and in 2015 as well.

However these species were described using DNA analysis as it is difficult to identify using only the shells. The shells of this species are conical, broader, with a flat apex and teleoconch whorls are broadly shouldered and separated by a deeply incised suture.

The holotype of this species is the largest shell and measures 2.2×1.2mm. It is expected that these snails may be distributed in China, India and Nepal.

Erhaia wangchuki is the only genus with a single species recorded from Bhutan till date.

Meanwhile the study of molluscs was initiated about four years ago as a collaborative project between NBC, UWICER, and the Naturalis, under the coordination of NBC and with funding support from Naturalis and Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC).

Other than new species of snails, the NBC has also discovered the addition of a new flora species, namely Roscoea megalantha. The plant was first described based on the specimens collected from eastern Bhutan in 2014 at an elevation of 2200m.

  1. megalantha belongs to Zingiberaceae family. The species name ‘megalantha’ comes from Greek for large flower. The flowers are white with purple streaked in the middle.

The new species is distinguished from related species in having white flower with purple markings in the middle and corolla tube clearly exerted from calyx.

Currently, including this recent discovery, Bhutan has three species of Roscoea, namely, R. alpina, R. bhutanica and R. megalantha. There are more than 5000 plant species in the country.

The discovery was the result of several intensive botanical excursions and field work carried out as part of the collaborative research and partnership between the National Biodiversity Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan and the Blue Poppy Society, Japan.


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