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Three new snail species discovered

The National Biodiversity Center (NBC) in Serbithang, Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Naturalis), Netherlands and Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER), Bumthang have discovered three new species of snails.

The three newly described species are: Rahula Kleini, Rahula Trongsaensis and Erhaia Wangchuki.

The type materials of these newly described species are deposited at the NBC’s invertebrate repository. With these discoveries, as of July 2017, the total snails and slugs of Bhutan stand at 120 species.

However, the 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 to Bhutan.

Rahula Kleini is named after Mr. Cornelis Klein, Bhutan’s Honorary Consul of the Netherlands and one of the initiators of Bhutan Invertebrate Project. Type material of this snail was collected in 2015 from Mongar Dzongkhag at an altitude of 2,300m above sea level.

The samples were collected by Professor Edmund Gittenberger from Naturalis and Pema Leda from NBC. This tiny shell measures at 3×2.7mm.The shells are globular conical, 3mm high, with radial riblets covering the entire teleoconch.

The second snail called Rahula Trongsaensis is named after Trongsa Dzongkhag as the species was found in Trongsa in 2015 by Prof. Edmund Gittenberger and Pema Leda at an altitude of 2,210m above sea level. Rahula Trongsaensis is smaller than Rahula Kleini, measuring about 2.3×1.9mm.

According to experts, the shells of Rahula Trongsaensis are conical, with radial riblets only above the sharp peripheral keel with narrow umbilicus. These species are expected to be found in India as well.

Erhaia Wangchuki was collected accidently by Prof. Edmund Gittenberger in 2015 from Thimphu. The same year, researcher Jigme Wangchuk of UWICER found the species in Wangduephodrang at 2,883m above sea level.

This species is described using DNA analysis as it is difficult to identify using only the shells. The shells of this species are conical, broader than high with a flat apex. Its 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 are distributed in China, India and Nepal as well. Erhaia Wangchuki is the only genus with a single species recorded from Bhutan till date. Erhaia Wangchuki is named after Jigme Wangchuk of UWICER, who discovered this minute snail.

The study of mollusks was initiated 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).

Additionally, a new floral species has also been discovered.

Roscoea Megalantha was described by researchers Rinchen Yangzom from NBC, Mr. T. Yoshida of Blue Poppy Society of Japan, and Dr. M. F. Newman from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Scotland, UK.

The plant was first described based on the specimens collected from eastern Bhutan in 2014 at an elevation of 2,200m. The vouchers of type specimens are deposited at the National Herbarium, Serbithang and Herbaria of the University of Tokyo and Royal Botanic garden, Edinburgh.

Roscoea Megalantha belongs to Zingiberaceae family. The species name ‘Megalantha’ comes from Greek for large flower. The flowers are white with purple streaks 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

Pema Seldon from Thimphu

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