Dr. John Healy, a curator at Queensland Museum, had found a preserved shell of a new kind of carnivorous mollusk in the museum's collection. The mollusk is named Amoria thorae in honor of Brisbane resident Thora Whitehead whose shell collection it was found.
According to Daily Mail, the carnivorous mollusk is a rare marine snail that has a cream-colored shell with a wavy pattern and dark lines. A. thorae inhabited some parts of Cape Moreton, Queensland, and Tweed Heads, New South Wales.
Amoria thorae, A Newly-Identified Rare Species of Marine Snail
Amoria thorae is a rare species of marine snail, coming from the medium-sized marine gastropods family of Volutidae. Sci-News reported that these carnivorous mollusks are found onshore and offshore in Australia and sometimes into the offshore waters of southern Indonesia.
Dr. Healy wrote in the study, titled "A New Species of Amoria (Gastropoda, Volutidae, Amoriinae) From the Mid-east Coast of Australia" published in Nature, that the newly-identified rare species can be easily distinguished from other Amoria species because of their small shell size, fusiform shape, equal-sized thick columellar plaits, the single, large undulation of the axial lines, and its high spire.
This species is so rare that scientists have yet to find a live specimen as only empty shells are found since the 1970s, Dr. Healy added. He said that he had known of a carnivorous mollusk before and even read about them in a book, but it has never been fully described. Discovering the rare mollusk in the museum's collection delighted him, especially because he found two specimens of this potentially new species.
He said that the empty shells were mistakenly cataloged under another species at the Australian Museum. But finding it helped him form a description for the new species, A. thorae. He hopes one day to find a living form of this extremely rare carnivorous mollusk so scientists may be able to understand its biology.
Thora Whitehead's Private Collection of Australian Marine Shells
Phys.org reported that the shell of the newly-identified species is found in the collection of Thora Whitehead, a Brisbane resident who collected marine shells for over 50 years from localities around Australia. Her collection was donated to Queensland Museum where Dr. Healy noticed the rare marine snail species.
He had been working with the Whitehead family for three years to acquire these shells into the State Collection. Dr. Healy emphasized the importance of this collection as something that not only contributes to the expansion of the mollusk collection of the museum but also will assist international scientific research.
Whitehead had collected the marine snails from various places in Australia, particularly in the coastlines of Queensland, She had also collected some from mangroves, surf beaches, shell beds, rock platforms, and coral reefs.
Dr. Jim Thompson, the CEO of Queensland Museum, said that Whitehead's collection plays a significant part in studying mollusks with more than 200,000 specimens available in her collection. Due to this, Whitehead has been recognized by the scientific community for her contribution to the study of mollusks by naming nearly a dozen species of mollusks after her.
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