Strange Translucent Snail Discovered 3,000 Feet Below Ground

An odd new species of snail, with a translucent shell, was found about 3,000 feet underground in a Croatian cave.

This new kind of snail appears to be blind, but seeing isn’t a very important sense when you live in a dark underground cave. The snail was found in one of the deepest caves on Earth.

It was described on Aug. 30 in the journal Subterranean Biology.

This new species, named Zospeum tholussum, is tiny: most of the shells discovered are only 1.4 to 1.8 millimeters tall. You can even see the snail’s guts through the shell:

Scientists found only one of the snails alive, but discovered several shells in the cave. The shells of young snails are translucent, but become more milky white as the snails age.

Zospeum tholussum is a separate species within the Zospeum genus. The new species is shown below in box A, and as compared to other members of the genus in B and C.

The species was found in the Lukina Jama-Trojama cave system in Croatia. The snail seems to have a limited ability to move around and spends most of its time in the mud near water.

This image shows where in the cave system where the new species was discovered:

The scientists don’t know much else about the species yet, including what it eats. Thanks to Dan Nosowitz from Popular Science for pointing out the study.

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