Snails are like “alien” creatures in danger of extinction

Scientists have just discovered a new genus of snails that look like small alien creatures that are on the brink of extinction.

A group of biologists has listed 32 species of land snails of the genus Plectostoma in Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. 10 of them are newly discovered species.

With bright orange, purple and red shells, this snail looks extremely eye-catching. “Their shells are twisted unlike other snails, making them look like little gems,” explains researcher Thor-Seng Liew, Center for Natural Biodiversity in Leiden, Netherlands. .

Loài ốc như sinh vật "ngoài hành tinh" nguy cơ tuyệt chủng

Strange snail species. (Source:

Liew and his colleagues used a microscopic CT scanner to study the snail’s strange shell.

This species of snail only lives on limestone hills, which is very rare in Southeast Asia, so the habitat of each snail population is very separate, making them a very typical species in hilly areas.

The narrow habitat means that any limestone mining activities for cement can destroy the entire population. In fact, the species Plectostoma sciaphilum became extinct when the hills where it lived were exploited in 2003.

Six other species of snails face similar dangers. P. tenggekensis, one of the species studied, is likely to disappear by the end of 2014.

To raise awareness about the conservation of these magnificent snails, researchers have named several species after conservation activists and politicians who advocate for their conservation.

For example, the species Plectostoma whitteni is named after Tony Whitten, a former World Bank biodiversity expert who is now the Asia-Pacific regional director of the International Fauna and Flora Conservation Union.

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