Scientists Identify New Snail Species, Name It after Greta Thunberg

A team of professional and citizen scientists has discovered a new species of caenogastropod snail living in tropical lowland rainforests of Borneo and named it after climate activist Greta Thunberg.

An individual of Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. Image credit: Pierre Escoubas.

An individual of Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. Image credit: Pierre Escoubas.

“The newly-described snail belongs to the so-called caenogastropods, a group of land snails known to be sensitive to drought, temperature extremes and forest degradation,” said Dr. Menno Schilthuizen, a snail expert and co-founder of Taxon Expeditions.

“All individuals were found very close to Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre at the foot of a steep hill-slope, next to a river bank, while foraging at night on the green leaves of understorey plants.”

The researchers decided to name the new species Craspedotropis gretathunbergae after the young climate activist Greta Thunberg, because caenogastropod snails from tropical rainforests are very sensitive to the droughts and temperature extremes that are likely to be more frequent as climate change continues.

“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,” said citizen scientist J.P. Lim, who found the first individual of the new species.

“And it’s a promise that people from all generations will join her to help.”

The team also approached Ms. Thunberg who said that she “would be delighted to have this species named after her.”

“This is not the first time that Taxon Expeditions team names a species in honor of an environmental advocate,” the scientists said.

“In 2018, we named a new species of beetle after famous actor and climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio.”

“Mr. DiCaprio temporarily changed his profile photo on Facebook to the photo of his beetle to acknowledge this honor.”

The team published a paper describing Craspedotropis gretathunbergae this week in the journal Biodiversity Data Journal.

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M. Schilthuizen et al. 2020. Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, a new species of Cyclophoridae (Gastropoda: Caenogastropoda), discovered and described on a field course to Kuala Belalong rainforest, Brunei. Biodiversity Data Journal 8: e47484; doi: 10.3897/BDJ.8.e47484

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