Picture of the Week—Whorly Snail

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This microscopic shell comes from a snail, Opisthostoma vermiculum, found in a limestone hill habitat in Malaysia. Its morphology is unique, twisting around four different coiling axes, the most for any gastropod. “In addition, the whorls detach three times and reattach twice to preceding whorls in a fairly consistent manner, which suggests that the coiling strategy is under some form of strict developmental-gene control.”

This snail made the list of the top ten new species described in 2008, as decided by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international group of taxonomists. Others, which can all be found online here, include caffeine-free coffee, the ghost slug, a bacterium found in hairspray and the world’s longest insect.

Credit: Courtesy of Reuben Clements/World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Malaysia

About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

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