New Aussie Snail Named After David Attenborough

Australian Museum has honoured the naturalist with a Lifetime Patron award and the name of a new Tasmanian snail genus.

Sir David Attenborough, who is currently touring Australia, has been honoured by the Australian Museum with a new species name and a Lifetime Patron award.

“When scientists and naturalists came here, they saw things that blew their mind,” Attenborough said in his acceptance speech in Sydney on 8 February.

“This museum of scientists took on the responsible job of chronicling and cataloguing the natural history of a continent. A continent unlike any other on this planet.  So when this museum pays me a compliment, it is a real compliment, and I thank you hugely for it.”

The legendary broadcaster already has twelve animal and plant species honouring his name, and those ranks are now joined by a snail genus found only in Tasmania—the Attenborougharion rubicundus.

The honorary snail.
PHOTO BY SIMON GROVE/AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM

“Now you know immediately of course that that means red face,” Attenborough joked. “Well, I don't know whether I am that red face, but that slug is, and it's a very beautiful creature.”

Indeed, it’s a fitting name for the brightly-coloured snail; its head and the lower part of the foot are bright red, while the rest of the body sports an earthly shade of green.

A. rubicundus, which is only 35-45 millimetres long, was discovered late last year by Australian Museum Research Institute scientists Frank Koehler and Isabel Hyman. You’d be hard pressed to find one in the wild, though—the snail lives only in south-east Tasmania on the Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas, in a forest patch about the size of a two-bedroom apartment.

Sir Attenborough attended a lunch in his honour atthe Australian Museum
on 8 February in Sydney.
PHOTO COURTESY AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM

“There is no greater compliment that a museum, or indeed a natural scientist, can pay to another one than by naming a family name after that individual,” said Attenborough. “I accept it with the greatest of pleasure and my utmost thanks to you all.”

With this award to Sir David Attenborough the Australian Museum—our country’s first museum—marks the beginning of its 190-year anniversary. During this time the museum has collected more than 18 million scientific specimens and cultural artefacts, and museum researchers have described thousands of new species.

“The Australian Museum, when it was founded 190 years ago, had the extraordinary and unique responsibility of starting the first systematic collection of the animals of an entire continent,” said Attenborough.

“I'm very proud now to be a member, a formal institutional member of this very, very distinguished institution.”

Don't miss the intense moments and drama of The Hunt narrated by David Attenborough,
starting 2 March on Nat Geo WILD!

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