Publication updates 23 & 24: New Malaysian land snail genus and species named after the late Dr. Tony Whitten

In honour of the late Dr. Tony Whitten, the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology has just published a special Memorial Issue showcasing articles celebrating Tony’s career and new species or genera named after him. Project Limestone researchers named one new genus and one new species after him.

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Tony was an avid supporter of Rimba’s Project Limestone. Up to his last day, Tony was still trying his best to bring scientists like us and the cement industry closer together to explore how limestone biodiversity can be better protected (see Tony in action in this video: min 27:37 onwards). Continue reading


Publication update 17: Kenyirus sheema – a new land snail species from an old rainforest

Holotype of the new species Kenyirus sheema. Foon, Tan and Clements, 2015.

The Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex (BTFC) in the State of Perak covers a cross section of Peninsular Malaysia’s terrestrial ecosystems from lowland rainforests at the foothills to tropical montane cloud forests in the highlands. This 300 sq km of wilderness is home to healthy populations of mammalian megafauna including the critically endangered Malayan Tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni. In fact, the remarkable state of ecosystem preservation in BTFC makes it one of the most critical regions in Peninsular Malaysia for the conservation of almost every group of rainforest flora and fauna. However, it was a cherry-sized snail that particularly caught the attention of Reuben, during one of his routine mammal surveys in BTFC one morning in February 2009. Continue reading

Publication update 13: Another new snail species from Terengganu!

It’s always a treat to find a species new to science.

But finding a new species of snail from Terengganu isn’t surprising.

One reason is that before the second half of the last century,  malacologists (scientists who study snails) mainly looked for snails in the Federated Malay States, which consisted of Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak and Selangor.

Finding a new species in Malaysia also isn’t that surprising. According to a study by Giam, one of Rimba’s researchers, tropical moist forests of the Neotropics, Afrotropics, and Indomalaya (this includes Malaysia!) are likely to harbour the greatest numbers of undescribed species.

Just last year, Reuben and his colleague, Tan Siong Kiat, described a new genus and species of snail in Terengganu. This snail is now known as Kenyirus sodhii. That was the first snail ever described from Terengganu and one of the first few animals to be named after Kenyir.

Now Reuben and another colleague, Mohammad Effendi bin Marzuki, are proud to announce another new species of snail from Terengganu: Pearsonia tembatensis.

Pearsonia tembatensis, new species, from Tembat Forest Reserve, Terengganu. Red circle indicates snorkel.
Pearsonia tembatensis, new species, from Tembat Forest Reserve, Terengganu. Red circle indicates snorkel.

Just for the record, this is the first time scientists have found this genus (Pearsonia) in Malaysia! You can read more information on this discovery here, which was published in the recent issue of the journal Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

If you look closely at the shell of this snail, you will notice a snorkel-like protuberance (circled in red) on the shell. For now, nobody knows yet what the function of this ‘snorkel’ is for.

You might find the name tembatensis familiar, as this snail was named after Tembat Forest Reserve, where Reuben conducted his camera trapping work under the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project.

The snail was also named after Tembat to highlight the environmental destruction befalling this forest reserve due to the construction of  new hydroelectric dams. We hope that we’ll still be able to find this snail in drier parts of the forest once the dam begins operating, because in the flooded areas, even its snorkel won’t be able to keep this air breather alive for long…