Dr. John Healy, a marine biologist at the Queensland Museum, the University of Queensland, and the Field Museum of Natural History, has described a new species of the genus Amoria from shells dredged off the Australian mid-east coast.
Amoria is a genus of medium-sized marine gastropods (snails and slugs) in the family Volutidae.
These predatory creatures are found in onshore and offshore waters around the entire coast of Australia; several species extend into offshore waters of southern Indonesia.
The newly-identified species can be readily distinguished from other Amoria species by the combination of small shell size, fusiform shape, high spire, equal-sized thick columellar plaits and a single, large undulation of the axial lines.
Named Amoria thorae, the species is so rare, scientists have yet to see a live specimen.
Presently it is known from only a handful of specimens, all just empty shells, trawled in the 1970’s within a narrow distribution area from northern News South Wales to south east Queensland.
“I long knew of a possible new species of carnivorous marine snail from the mid-eastern coast of Australia,” Dr. Healy said.
“I’d seen a shell of this marine snail illustrated in a book, but not officially described, so you can imagine my delight when photographing this new collection, I found not one, but two specimens of this potentially new species.”
“They were trawled off Cape Moreton at 110 m depth and after further research I discovered a further two specimens catalogued under another species name at the Australian Museum.”
“These four specimens formed the basis for the description of the new species, Amoria thorae.”
“This species is extremely rare, and my hope is that one day the living animal will be found, photographed and studied so we may better understand its biology and relationships.”
The specific name of Amoria thorae honors long-time Brisbane resident Thora Whitehead, whose shell collection was recently donated to the Queensland Museum, and who has, for over 50 years, made a major contribution to Australian malacology (the study of mollusks).
“The Thora Whitehead Collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections of marine shells in Australia and contains thousands of species, including numerous rarities and foreign species many collected by Thora herself,” Dr. Healy said.
“It will contribute not only to the expansion of the Museum’s mollusk collection, but also assist the international scientific community with research.”
Amoria thorae is described in a paper published in the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature.
J.M. Healy et al. 2019. A new species of Amoria (Gastropoda, Volutidae, Amoriinae) from the mid-east coast of Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature 62: 1-10; doi: 10.17082/j.2204-1478.62.2020.2019-02
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