Semislugs, or “snugs” as they’re known among mollusk foragers, are like squatters of the snail world: They carry a house on their back but it’s too small to live in. However, it does provide a kind of protection, while not being obstructed by the slug’s worm-like body.
For unknown reasons, on the island of Borneo shared by the countries of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, most mollusks are of the semi-type. The Microparmarion genus there consists of about 10 parageographic species, most of which are found in cooler mountain forests. So, when citizen scientists discovered Microparmarion in the hot lowland forest of Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei, as part of their expedition, they were surprised.
Over the past years, the scientific travel agency Taxon Expeditions, in collaboration with Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) has been organizing biodiversity discovery trips for scientists, students and ordinary people to this forest. On the first trip, in 2018, during a nighttime stroll, participant Simon Perini, who runs an ethical pest control company in the UK, came upon a dead leaf hanging on the road.
Everyone — the other participants, even the resident snail expert — stooped and passed under this dead leaf without even glancing at it. But something on its surface caught Simon’s attention. “Oi, is that a slug?” he cried, picking at a slimy, well-camouflaged mollusk.
At the time, the team’s zoologists already suspected it was a new species—nothing like this had ever been found on this corner of the island. But that single specimen was not enough to publish its description as a new species. Over the years, successive expeditions to the same area came up with several more specimens of the same species, making it clear that it was indeed a species never seen before.
For the 2022 expedition, a team made up of UBD students Norlia Azwan and Azza Hamdani and citizen scientist Harrison Wu of Virginia finished the description. Using the portable lab Taxon Expeditions always carries with them, the team studied the animals’ shells, reproductive organs, and animal DNA and prepared a paper for it. Biodiversity Data JournalIt was published this week.
As usual on Taxon Expeditions, last night the team voted on the scientific name for the new species. By an overwhelming majority, the “snug” is named after Mr. Mohamed Salih Abdullah Butt, the field center supervisor, who will be retiring just weeks after leaving the team. Mr. Saleh himself agrees that it is a very appropriate farewell gift.
Menno Schilthuizen et al, a new semi-slug of the genus Microparmarion from Brunei discovered, described and DNA-encoded in Taxonomic Campaigns (Gastropoda, Stylommatophora, Ariophantidae), Biodiversity Data Journal (2023). DOI: 10.3897/BDJ.11.e101579
the quote: Citizen Scientists Discover New ‘Warm’ in Brunei’s Forest, Named After Retired Field Center Director (2023, April 10), Retrieved April 10, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-citizen -scientists-snug-brunei-forest.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.