KEY POINTS

  • Citizen scientists discovered a new snail species during an expedition
  • They named it after young climate activist Greta Thunberg
  • Unfortunately, land snails are susceptible to the effects of climate change

Taxon Expeditions is a company that organizes scientific field trips to biodiversity hotspots all over the world for both scientists and laypeople. Various species have been discovered through the company’s expeditions and, their latest find is a new snail species that is now named after young climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae

The participants of a 10-day Taxon Expeditions field course to Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre in Brunei Darussalam discovered a new snail species while they were foraging on the green leaves of understorey plants along the bank of the Belalong river at night.

After voting on what they should name the new species, participants and staff at the National Park decided to name it Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae after young climate activist Greta Thunberg to honor all her efforts for climate change awareness.

“Naming this snail after Greta Thunberg is our way of acknowledging that her generation will be responsible for fixing problems that they did not create,” citizen scientist J.P. Lim said. He was the one who discovered the first Craspedotropis gretathunbergae specimen during the expedition. “And it's a promise that people from all generations will join her to help.”

Teen Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, seen here giving a speech at the COP 25 talks in Madrid, was named Time's Person of the Year for 2019 Teen Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, seen here giving a speech at the COP 25 talks in Madrid, was named Time's Person of the Year for 2019 Photo: AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER

In a paper describing the new species, now published in Biodiversity Data Journal, the team said that they have approached Thunberg about the idea and, that she said she would be “delighted” to have the species named after her.

The authors of the paper also noted that the description of the new species is a concerted effort of untrained citizen scientists working together.

New Snail Species

The authors describe the new species as being most similar to C. borneensis and, can even be confused with other Asian species such as Cyathopoma conoideum, which has a more slender shell but whose spiral ribs are arranged in a different pattern, and the C. procerum, which is stockier.

Unfortunately, land snails such as the newly discovered species are likely to suffer in response to climate change. For instance, the genus Craspedotropis, which the new species belongs to, is a group of snails known to be sensitive to habitat disturbances such as forest degradation and drought.