Science

The last Hawaiian snail named George has died

               

The last known Hawaiian tropical species snail Achatinella apexfulva , nicknamed George, died at the age of 14 years in the laboratory of the Department of Natural Resources of the State of Hawaii. About the death of the snails reported by the department.


DLNR Hawaii

Terrestrial snails Achatinella apexfulva, endemics of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, are completely extinct in the wild, in particular, because of the invasive species – another predatory snailEuglandina rosea, which in the mid-1950s was brought to Hawaii from Central America for pest control. In 1997, the last ten snails of this species, the first of the Hawaiian snails described by Western science, were taken to the university laboratory for captive breeding, but by 2011 all the snails, except George, had died.

As reported in the department’s blog, George, who received his nickname in honor of another last representative of his species, Lonely George , died on January 1 at about 14 years old. At the same time, a two-millimeter piece of George’s foot, taken for analysis in 2017, technically remains alive in a deep freeze in San Diego. In a post on Facebook, the department expresses the hope that one day this piece will allow Achatinella apexfulva to be cloned  .

“George’s death is a big loss for the locals, as he was the hero of many articles and notes, and over the years hundreds of schoolchildren met him,” the blog says.

The NPR radio station notes that George, despite the male nickname, was a hermaphrodite, like many snails, but left no offspring, because representatives of this species need a partner for breeding. Biologist David Siko, who worked with George, told NPR that the snail was “a little recluse” and most likely died of old age, since for snails 14 years is “more than respectable age”.

New Year’s holidays brought some good news about rare species: scientists and eco-activists reported that they spotted a northern smooth whale with a calf off the coast of the state of Florida – this is the first for two seasons of observing a cub of a species that numbers only 450 individuals.

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