Snail memory is the key to unlocking our future

Did you know that a Nobel Prize scientist, Eric Kandel, an American neuropsychiatrist who studied how memory works and how memory is stored in neurons, used a Mollusc similar to a snail, a sea slug [we call them sea hares] Aplysia californica, to study how neurons worked. He used it because he decided that this was the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning.

Scientists at the University of California have now successfully transferred memory between snails. Click here to find more

World Science Festival at Chinchilla

February saw the World Science Festival go to Chinchilla. It is not surprising that many children and adults enjoyed seeing and learning about our native land snails. The highlight was getting to hold a snail and our snails, who much prefer their nocturnal habitats, performed admirably and allowed many students (and their teachers and parents…the big kids) to enjoy these fascinating creatures.

Lots of fun was had at Kogan State School, a small school about 30km from Chinchilla where we worked with all the classes including prep and also Jandowee State School with Prep, Year 5,6,7 and 8. Congratulations to all the students who showed such interest and asked such good, in-depth questions.

Our snails have babies!

We are now grandparents to about 50 baby snails which hatched in our terrariums this week. These are the Camaenid SQ17 (undescribed species) from the Hummock near Bundaberg. We hope to raise some to adulthood in about 2 years and this should be an interesting exercise.  The shell they have since hatching from the egg will form the protoconch and the shell they will now grow (teleoconch) will be a different pattern and eventually have stripes like the larger adult snails that can be seen here.

The most interesting part of this story is that when they were collected, the Snail Whisperer found an old abandoned suitcase in the forest. And it was full of these snails!. So they are actually suitcase babies.

Red Slug at Mt Kaputar

Click here to check out this amazing time lapse photography of the red slug at Mt Kaputar.

In 2019 artist Anna Glynn & biologist Peter Dalmazzo captured time-lapse video of the giant pink slug from their second research stay within the Snail and Slug Threatened Ecological Community atop Mt Kaputar, NSW, as part of the Art of the Threatened Species Project.

Chinchilla Science Festival…a hit!

Great fun was had at the recent Chinchilla Science Festival. The highlight was the hatching of more than 20 Figuladra babies in one of our terrariums.

Click here to see the fun Brigalow SS students had learning about snails.

Students at Drillham SS also enjoyed the visit and our highlight was the new species of snail brought in by two girls.

St Joseph’s College and Jandowae P-10 school also saw their students and staff find out just how important our native snails are and lots of facts about snails. They were very keen to learn and had lots of thoughtful questions.

Book 2 wins a Whitley commendation

The Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales announced the winners of the Whitley Awards for 2018 at a Presentation Ceremony held in the foyer of the Australian Museum on 3rd October.

This beautiful space is well suited for these Award presentations as they celebrate excellence in the publication of books, and other media, that increase our knowledge of Australasian fauna and particularly its conservation. The Whitley Awards is one of the major events on the Society’s calendar. The Awards include Certificates of Commendation in a variety of zoological disciplines and target audiences; children’s books, field guides, conservation biology, periodicals and natural history. They also included a number of taxa and this year the invertebrates are well represented. The Whitley Medal and Certificate of Special Commendation are two of the most prestigious Awards in Zoological publishing. While the Medal is given for an outstanding publication (Australian Echinoderms), the Special Commendation is for a life long contribution to publishing (Tim Flannery).

Congratulations to John, Darryl, Michael and Owen for again reaching the heights with the publication of Book 2 and a Certificate of Commendation for Taxonomic Zoology. This was presented by Dr Frank Köhler from the Australian Museum.


Volume 2 is here!

Australian Land Snails Volume 2 covers 756 species in 39 families from an area that extends from western Queensland and New South Wales to Victoria and Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory; several species from Christmas Island are also included. The field guide is dominated by the Camaenidae (480 species) which has radiated exuberantly in the semi-arid and arid areas of Australia. Contained in the guide are more than 2000 colour images plus descriptions, distribution maps, key localities and habitat and ecology notes. Most species are illustrated in colour for the first time. Thirty-five genera and five species are described as new.

This guide is targeted at both professional and semi-professional malacologists as well as students, amateur natural historians and those involved in land management. But whether it is used as a manual for study or as an identification handbook, this field guide should be an inspiration for those with an interest in the natural world.

Volume 2 is now in the Queensland Museum bookshop (RRP $99 including GST). Also available on-line.

Clockwise from the left: Amplirhagada osmondi, WA; Sinumelon pedasum, SA; Torrestrachia hartogi, Molena I.; Mesodontrachia fitzroyana, NT. Images: Vince Kessner .

ALS front cover vol 2