Nihoa Island in the Pacific Ocean is the only refuge for the newly discovered species of the Hawaiian land snail Endodonta christenseni. Previously, this species was considered extinct.
First recorded in 1923, Endodonta christenseni still has no scientific name or description. This is probably the last remaining species in the genus Endodonta. The remaining 11 species were collected and described more than 100 years ago and today are known only from museum samples. A team of researchers from the Bishop Museum and the Florida Museum of Natural History found the snail while surveying more than 1,000 sites in the Hawaiian Islands.
Scientists warn that without protection, a newly discovered species could disappear within 10 years.
Over the past 400 years, land snails in the Pacific Islands have become more extinct than any other animal group. Their decline is associated with habitat destruction, aggressive predators, and climate change. While Hawaii has lost more than half of its land snail species (it once numbered over 750), researchers have recorded about 300 species believed to be long extinct, including E. christenseni.
“The results of this extensive study give us hope that there are still many species that can be saved,” concludes Noreen Yung, co-director of the study.