Behind the scenes

Unusual snails found thriving at hydrothermal vents

Images of the new Alviconcha species: 1) A. hessleri, 2) A. kojimai, 3) A. boucheti, 4) A. marisindica, 5) A. strummeri, 6) A. adamantis.

Images of the new Alviniconcha species: 1) A. hessleri, 2) A. kojimai, 3) A. boucheti, 4) A. marisindica, 5) A. strummeri, 6) A. adamantis.

December 10, 2014

MBARI Senior Research Technician Shannon Johnson Williams described five new species of Alviniconcha snails using DNA sequences. These snails live in the hottest and most acidic waters near hydrothermal vents. Because they live in these extreme conditions, Alviniconcha snails have severely degraded shells covered in spikes or they have no shells at all. Johnson and her fellow researchers sequenced six species from hydrothermal vents in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. They are morphologically indistinguishable because of the extreme environment they live in. Johnson informally described the snails as “cool and punk rock”, she named one of them after Joe Strummer, the lead singer of The Clash. Read more about this work in the Open Access article: http://ow.ly/Fz2Fz.