A Mighty Snail Found in Ecuador - (Bonus) Observation of the Week, 3/14/19

Our (Bonus!) Observation of the Week is this large Thaumastus thompsoni snail, seen in Ecuador by @souhjiro!

Edgar Segovia (@souhjiro) is a biologist who has a lot of interests, “mainly entomology, arachnology, carcinology and malacology, and I am also interested in aquatic biology and ecology.” His curiosity with nature started at an early age, when“[I] saw as child the insects on the garden or on my school patio, and the tadpoles on the puddles around my natal city of Cuenca...and compared them with the Atlas of the Animal World, from Reader´s Digest, which was my first and favorite book.” Even at at that young age, Edgar noticed detail such as the local frogs, mainly of the genus Gastrotheca, did not lay eggs like those he saw in the book.

As he grew older, Edgar was mentored by biologist Gustavo Morejon, who lent him books and showed him Universidad del Azuay’s insect collection. “As a 12-something year old boy, [I] was totally fascinated with that, and that furthered my interest on following a biology career,” he says. “I worked in ecological assessments with land insects, and also limnology studies in different places of my country, knowing meanwhile a lot of terrestrial and aquatic insects and macrofauna (including fish and herps) from Ecuador. Lately, I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Charles Darwin Station, and could be in contact with the insects of Galapagos Islands in the flesh (or carapace).”

Edgar saw the snail pictured above (which, he notes, has a shell about 8 cm in length) not recently but actually way back in 2004, while instructing rangers at Sangay National Park. Tasked with teaching collection techniques for herpetofauna and invertebrates, including pitfall traps, he recalls

One drizzly morning, revising the pitfalls, among the Chusquea bamboo surrounding one of the traps, a big snail appeared. [Everyone] there was very excited, and we put it on a tree trunk to photograph it. For a time, we forgot about the pitfalls (then remembered and continued). The snail received a lot of flashes while all those with cameras photographed it, and I used the opportunity to talk about our very much neglected terrestrial malacofauna to the rangers.

This was not his first time encountering Thaumastus thompsoni. In fact, in 2002 he assisted Brazilian scientist Meire Pena when she was collecting specimens in the Azuay province. This species, says Edgar, “is associated with Chusquea and mixed chaparro forest patches on Andean Cañar and Azuay, and currently is under threat of habitat destruction for cattle farming, pasture opening, and fast urbanization, but that threat is not yet assessed properly. Great thrushes eat the snails, and sometimes near rock outcroppings their emptied and broken shells are found.” When he recently passed through this area, Edgar noted that the forest had regained some territory since 2004, and shells on the ground indicated that thes snails still inhabit the area.

As for iNaturalist, Edgar (above, in Plaza Sur, Galapagos), heard about it from Gustavo Morejon, his old mentor, and he says

the [iNaturalist community] accelerates the process of ID, and there are some specialists and experts on there...it motivates me to publish more observations on the web instead to keep them archived, and is even fun to stroll a walk taking pics of every interesting critter or plant in the path.

- by Tony Iwane. Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, March 14, 2019 07:36

Comments

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Wow -- such a magnificent snail! So glad to hear they are still there. Thank you Edgar for uploading this!

Posted by susanhewitt 7 months ago (Flag)
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Ah..What a Beauty!!!

Posted by katharinab 7 months ago (Flag)
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Magnificent find!

Posted by ivansls 7 months ago (Flag)
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Cool!!! Thanks for sharing this. I like the stripe, it's like a skunk snail :)

Posted by mira_l_b 7 months ago (Flag)
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I love large land snails, they are so interesting.

Posted by predomalpha 7 months ago (Flag)
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Wondering about that escargot fork in your hand. (just kidding)

Posted by sekihiker 7 months ago (Flag)
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So glad that you followed your passions and now teach. Keep posting!!

Posted by pam-piombino 7 months ago (Flag)

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