Friday, 26 April 2013

A new species on every mountain - Extraordinary evolution in Thailand

Tiny colourful snails are in danger of extinction with vanishing limestone ecosystems
April 2013. Three new species from the genus Perrottetia were described from north and north-eastern Thailand. The species show extraordinary endemism, with each of these colourful snails occurring as "One Hill One Species". This is a very peculiar phenomenon where each one of these highly endemic snails is specific and the only one inhabiting a certain mountain range. They live in rock crevices, feeding on even smaller snails, insect larvae and some earthworms species. These beautiful animals are now at risk from extinction with the destruction of limestone ecosystems. 
Perrottetia aquilonaria, one of the newly 
described species. Credit: Somsak Panha 

Limestone ecosystems in the world are now being destroyed at an alarming rate. This means we are losing biodiversity resources, a tendency especially threatening for the hot spot areas like Thailand. The new research findings show that key terrestrial invertebrates, such as several new bright carnivorous land snails are still persisting in such areas and are being described even from the highly endangered quarried sites. This demonstrates that there are still remnants of some fundamental ecosystem, which lives and is struggling for survival, a great experience for mankind to learn. 


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