New snail found by citizen scientists named after Greta Thunberg

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Craspedotropis gretathunbergae

Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. Credit: Taxon Expeditions

A new to science species of land snail was discovered by a group of citizen scientists working together with scientists from Taxon Expeditions, a company that organizes scientific field trips for teams consisting of both scientists and laypeople. Having conducted a vote on how to name the species, the expedition participants and the local staff of the National Park together decided to name the mollusc Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. The species name honors the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg for her efforts to raise awareness about climate change. The study is published in the open access journal Biodiversity Data Journal.

“The newly described snail belongs to the so-called caenogastropods, a group of land snails known to be sensitive to drought, temperature extremes, and forest degradation”, says snail expert and co-founder of Taxon Expeditions, Dr. Menno Schilthuizen. All individuals were found very close to the research field station (Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre) at the foot of a steep hill-slope, next to a riverbank, while foraging at night on the green leaves of understorey plants.

Taxon Expeditions Participant Collecting Snails

Taxon Expeditions participant J.P. Lim collecting snails. Credit: Taxon Expeditions / Pierre Escoubas

Citizen scientist J.P. Lim, who found the first individual of Greta Thunberg’s snail says: “Naming this snail after Greta Thunberg is our way of acknowledging that her generation will be responsible for fixing problems that they did not create. And it’s a promise that people from all generations will join her to help”.

The expedition team approached Ms. Thunberg,

Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei

View of the Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei from the canopy bridge. Credit: Taxon Expeditions / Pierre Escoubas

who said that she would be “delighted” to have this species named after her.

However, this is not the first time that Taxon Expeditions team names a species in honor of an environmental advocate. In 2018, they named a new species of beetle after famous actor and climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Mr. DiCaprio temporarily changed his profile photo on Facebook to the photo of “his” beetle to acknowledge this honor.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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