Scientists Discover 36 New Snail Species On Samoa’s Savai’i

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Moths not seen in years, snails extinct at lower altitudes found

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 26, 2013) – 36 species of snails which are new to science have been found in the uplands of Samoa’s Savai’i Island.

A New Zealand Department of Conservation entomologist, Eric Edwards, was part of a large team of researchers who spent 10 days exploring the bird, plant, lizard and insect life there.

Mr. Edwards says they were camping and collecting samples between 1,000 and 1,800 metres above sea level, an area still largely unexplored.

He says the higher they got, the fewer lizards there were, and because of the time of year there was not much fruit to attract birds.

But he says they rediscovered moths that haven’t been seen in years, and snails extinct at low altitude.

"This upland area in Savai’i, part of its naturalness is how uninvaded it is. Very few things have invaded there amongst the insect fauna. So that means the snail fauna is very intact. And so things that are extinct and are fossils that you find in the sand dunes around the Savai’i coastline - they’re extinct at low altitude, but they’re present in the upland. You know, that’s something to be treasured."

Eric Edwards says the rate at which new species were discovered means there are many more to be found.

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