"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
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
28.03.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences