Scientists shocked by rare new species
A donation of a large and scientifically important shell collection to the Queensland Museum led to the discovery of a new species of mollusk by a museum curator.
Amoria thorae, a new species from the carnivorous volute family of marine snails, has been named in honor of longtime Brisbane resident Ms Thora Whitehead, whose collection was recently donated to the museum.
The new species is so rare that scientists have yet to see a living specimen. Currently, only a handful of specimens are known, all empty shells, trawled in the 1970s in a narrow range from northern New South Wales to south-eastern Queensland.
The Queensland Museum’s curator, Marine Environments (Molluscs), Dr John Healy said he has long been aware of a possible new species of carnivorous marine snail off Australia’s eastern coast.
“I had seen a shell of this marine snail illustrated in a book, but not officially described, so you can imagine my joy in photographing this new collection, I found not one, but two specimens of this potentially new species” , Dr Healy mentioned.
“They were trawled off Cape Moreton at a depth of 110 meters and after further research I discovered two more specimens cataloged under another species name at the Australian Museum. These four specimens served as the basis for the description of the new species,Amoria thorae.
This species is extremely rare, and I hope that one day the living animal will be found, photographed and studied so that we can better understand its biology and relationships.
The Thora Whitehead Collection is one of Australia’s largest and most comprehensive private marine shell collections and contains thousands of species, including many rarities and alien species, many of which were collected by Thora herself. . For the past three years, Dr. Healy has worked with the Whitehead family to acquire these seashells from the State Collection.
Dr Healy said the Whitehead collection will not only help expand the museum’s mollusc collection, but also help the international scientific community with their research.
“Much of the material has been collected by Thora over 50 years from localities around the Australian coasts and in particular Queensland, in habitats as diverse as mangroves, surf beaches, shell beds, platforms rocky and coral reefs, ”said Dr. Healy.
“Thora’s collection will continue to provide the basis for public education and future research projects for decades to come and this should always be the benchmark by which any collection of scientific merit (like this one) is measured.
Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said that with over 200,000 specimens the collection was significant.
“We are grateful to Thora Whitehead and her family for this important donation to the State Collection,” said Dr. Thompson.
“Thora is recognized by the scientific community for his contribution to malacology (the study of molluscs) and is co-author of several publications on the subject and has nearly a dozen species of molluscs named in his honor, including the most recent. species from its collection.
The new species was published in theMemories of the Queensland Museum.