Researchers discover 18 new species of molluscs

Apr 30, 2014

Molluscs are invertebrates that make up one of the most numerous groups in the animal kingdom. They are everywhere, from great heights of over 3,000m above sea level to ocean profundities of over 5,000m deep, in polar and tropical waters and they tend to be common elements on coastlines around the world. Within this animal group are found the nudibranchs, characterized among other things, for not having shells and being brightly coloured. This colouring alerts their predators to their toxicity. Within this group, in turn, we can find the Aeolidiidae family.

This family has been the centre of a study by the researcher from the University of Cádiz, Leila Carmona; a project which has been principally based on reviewing, from a molecular and morphological point of view, all of the known species that make it up. This group of "is one of the biggest with regard to the number of genera that make it up and, although it has been known for a long time, not a lot is known about it", explains the researcher.

So, Doctor Carmona started a project whose primary objective was to draw up a list of the greatest possible number of these animals and in order to do this, together with one of her thesis directors, the UCA professor Juan Lucas Cervera, she requested material from museums, research institutes, universities, diving associations or any individual familiar with and residing in the areas where specific species of Aeolidiidae could be found. In this way, the University of Cadiz, gradually built up an important collection of these molluscs, 52 species, which were studied by Leila Carmona.

"Once we started acquiring the species, the molecular analysis began. For this, their DNA was extracted and a series of analyses known as "phylogenetic analyses" was carried out, the aim of which was to determine the degree of relatedness between species and genera. In this way, a list of results was gradually compiled and we could decide which genera were valid and which were not, in order to define the difference between genera and which characteristics determined each of them", in the words of the researcher. Of the 52 species studied, 18 of them were new, that is to say, "they were not previously known to science". Therefore, "at this moment I am drawing up descriptions of these newly discovered species".

Among the discovered by Leila Carmona there is one species, Anteaeolidiella indica, which has brought her many surprises. "A priori, it was a species that was supposedly spread throughout the world, and after molecular analysis it was observed to be not one species, but eight different ones. Of these, three are new and the ironic thing is that the species described initially and which corresponds to this denomination, does not appear, or at least, we have not managed to find it. With the data that we currently have, extracted from these species and with the original description dating from the 19th Century, we have not managed to find that animal. Therefore it would appear that we have been using an incorrect name since the 19th Century for eight different species and we do not know with precision which mollusc corresponds to the name we have been using", determines the doctor.

Another striking case is that of the Spurilla onubensis. "From the work carried out using modern Molecular Biology and Scanning Electron Microscope techniques, we realized that a series of examples of this found in Huelva corresponded to a new to scientists, in spite of having been identified as Spurilla neapolitana for years".

Explore further: Two new species of yellow-shouldered bats endemic to the Neotropics

Provided by University of Cadiz

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

'Divide and rule'—raven politics

10 hours ago

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups ...

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

Oct 30, 2014

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes—individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Kyoto University in Japan have discovered ...

Four new dragon millipedes found in China

Oct 30, 2014

A team of speleobiologists from the South China Agriculture University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have described four new species of the dragon millipedes from southern China, two of which seem to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.