"Never have so many species from a single genus, nor even from a single family, been described in one single study", Anselmo Peñas, lead author of the collaborative monograph between the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in Paris and Spain's National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC), and one of the world's leading experts on the Pyramidelloidae superfamily, tells SINC.
In 2000, the Paris museum commissioned Anselmo Peñas and Emilio Rolán to carry out the study on deep water Pyramidelloidae from the tropical waters of the South Pacific. This is the first study to have described 272 species of snails from the genus Turbonilla, which were discovered over the past 30 years during international ocean research campaigns in waters between 100 and 1,700 metres deep off New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Polynesia.
The study has been published in volume 26 of the Scientific Publications of the Paris Natural History Museum, and has been described by its authors as "more than an achievement". "If there were a Guinness world record for Science, this would be one without a shadow of a doubt", say the experts, both of whom are retired and collectors of micro molluscs.
"This study has been harder and larger than others, and it has been a great challenge for us because it involved deep water material that was also from a region that we were not familiar with, and it also involved a large number of species, which made it even more complicated", Emilio Rolán, co-author of the monograph and a collaborator at the University of Santiago de Compostela, tells SINC.
Ten years of study
A decade of analysis, evaluations, comparisons, rulings out and contacts made with museums from all around the world made it possible to confirm the finding of 209 species new to science. "It's really incredible", says Peñas of the number of snails. Out of the remaining species studied, around 30 were already known and a further 33 did not provide sufficient material to make it possible to describe them as new species.
"When the director of Malacology from the Museum of Paris told us there were a lot of species, we smiled, because we are old hands at this, and we thought there would be around 20 or 30 new species. The surprising thing was when we saw they were all different, with more and more turning up", explains Rolán.
"The novelty is not only in the description of so many species, but also in the fact that they all belong to a single genus, Turbonilla, to a single family", points out Peñas. According to the expert, so many species from a single genus have never been described before in a single study, not even in the 19th Century, when the largest number of species were described, nor during the 20th Century.
The difficulty of identifying Pyramidelloidae
Identifying molluscs from the Turbonilla genus is not as easy as it is for other families, such as the Conidae, the most numerous family of gastropod molluscs along with the Pyramidelloidae. Their lack of a radula (molluscs' 'teeth', which are used to identify the species) and their tiny, almost microscopic, size (less than 10 millimetres), made the authors' work harder and longer, requiring them to spend long periods at the Paris museum.
"Since there were so many and they were so small, it was impossible to separate them by sight alone, so we had to take photographs with an electron microscope and then arrange them. In total, there were 1,300 photos. It's been a huge job", explains Rolán.
Another distinctive feature of this family is parasitation: "It is known that the Pyramidelloidae feed off the body juices of other molluscs such as the common mussel and sand mason worms, but we don't know how many Pyramidelloidae are mollusc parasites", says Peñas. Since they have no radula, these molluscs feed on others using a kind of trunk, which they stick into their soft juices.
The work of the two Spanish experts does not end here. This is the first part of their study, which over the next two years will lead to the publication of new studies on other genera in the same family that will be "almost as important as the first one".
SINC Team | alfa
New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences
The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences