Utah wildlife biologists in Salt Lake City say they recently came across a small species of snail lurking in Utah.
Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said this month that biologists discovered the zoogenetes harpa snail, or boreal snail, while in Dry Fork Canyon in the Uinta Mountains in April, then again the following month at Big Brush Creek Canyon also in the mountain. range.
The boreal snail is only 4 millimeters, which is roughly the size of a quinoa grain, according to the Wildlife Resources Division. Like other snail species, it thrives most in spring and fall due to mild, wet conditions.
The species has been documented elsewhere in North America, as well as in Japan, Scandinavia, the Swiss Alps and northern Russia. According to Nature Serve Explorer, it has been found in Colorado and Montana among the western states.
State wildlife biologists say they believe the species is native to Utah and was not imported from other parts of the world. It is now the 125th species of snails known to exist in Utah. Biologists added that its reddish-brown cone-shaped shell differs from the shells of Utah’s other 124 snails.
While scientists have been slow to find it, they are delighted with its discovery. Jordon Detlor, the division’s native aquatic biologist, said it’s a type of discovery that reminds him why he went into the field he is in.
“Finding a new species is very exciting because it shows that there is still a lot to learn and discover when it comes to the natural world, and it shows that there is still a lot that we don’t know. again, âDetlor said. in a report.
The discovery was made as biologists use snails to help understand the health of ecosystems in Utah.
“Because land snails feed on living and dead plant material and help break down leaf litter and rotten wood, they are an important piece of the puzzle for healthy and functioning ecosystems,” added Detlor. “They in turn are a food source for different insects, small mammals and even some birds, including grouse and turkeys. Snails are part of the rich diversity of wildlife we ââenjoy here in Utah.”