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Seven snail species new to Belgium discovered

Seven new snails to Belgium discovered

It’s a remarkable discovery that has sent ripples through the world of malacology (the study of molluscs). No fewer than seven snail species never before found in Belgium have been unearthed in Wallonia. Seven may not seem many. However, the country’s existing snail count is only around 110 species. So this is a significant addition to Belgium’s biodiversity.

This week’s edition of the Belgian Journal of Zoology reveals that these new species were discovered in the most unexpected of places – building material dumps.

Seven snail species new to Belgium
Most of the living snails were found in these hollow concrete blocks in the stone yard in Hermalle-sous-Argenteau (Photo: J. Delcourt).

Four of these species are not entirely new to the European continent, but the remaining three can be traced back to China or Vietnam. (These Asian snails were all found dead, which is probably for the best, given their reputation as severe agricultural pests in their countries of origin.)

Charpentieria itala snail found in Belgium
Living individuals of Charpentieria itala found in Sprimont (A) and Balen (B). Scale bar: 10 mm. (Photos: L. Bronne & E. Weetjens)

The researchers believe that the snails made it to Belgium by hitching a ride on building products such as bricks, tiles, stones and other quarry products. They likely survived for months tucked away within their shells.

The credit for this exciting find goes to researchers Louis Bronne and Johann Delcourt from Natagora and the University of Liège. Their relentless exploration of stone yards in Wallonia in 2022 and 2023 finally led them to these hidden treasures.

Does their discovery inspire you to search your local building materials dump?

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