Crikey steveirwini! Snail honour for late Aussie star

November 13, 2009

An Australian scientist has paid an unusual tribute to late conservation star Steve Irwin by naming a rare species of snail "crikey steveirwini".

Queensland Museum scientist John Stanisic said khaki colours on the stripy tree snail reminded him of the trademark shirt and shorts worn by Irwin, who died in a freak stingray incident in 2006.

"This is an extremely rare of snail," Stanisic said Friday, describing it as "a colourful snail, with swirling bands of creamy yellow, orange-brown and chocolate giving the shell an overall khaki appearance".

"It was the khaki colour that immediately drew the connection to the late Crocodile Hunter," he said.

Stanisic said crikey steveirwini's name and precarious habitat would also draw attention to the effects of climate change.

"So far it has only been found in three locations, all on the summits of high mountains in far north Queensland and at altitudes above 1,000 metres (3,280 feet), which is quite unusual for Australian land ," he said.

"These mountainous habitats will be among the first to feel the effects of climate change and Steve Irwin's tree snail could become a focal species for monitoring this change."

'Crocodile Hunter' Irwin, known for his "Crikey!" catchphrase, has already had a wildlife reserve, a road, a turtle and an anti-whaling ship named after him.

Meanwhile Sunday (November 15) has been nominated as "Steve Irwin Day" by Zoo in Queensland, which he built with his father, Bob.

(c) 2009 AFP

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