New species discovered off Chile’s coast

The Bay of Concepción has provided a key contribution to further understanding of the marine world, with the discovery of a new species of deep sea snail.

The deep seas of the Bay of Concepción have allowed new marine discoveries. Photo by Germán Póo-Caamaño/Flickr
The deep seas of the Bay of Concepción have allowed new marine discoveries. Photo by Germán Póo-Caamaño/Flickr

Chile has been a hotbed of scientific discoveries in recent years. While northern telescopes look deep into the skies, marine scientists have delved into the ocean to uncover secrets of the universe closer to home.

The latest discovery comes from the Bay of Concepción — a whole new species of deep sea snail. The research team made up of Koen Fraussen, Javier Sellanes and Peter Stahlschmidt decided to name the new animal Jerrybuccinum kantori after the famed Russian marine biologist Yuri Kantor.

According to the paper, published in the Zoo Keys journal, the snail is distinguished by its unique structure and shape.

“Jerrybuccinum is characterised by a slender, fusiform shell with a high spire but a moderately long siphonal canal, a broad but blunt protoconch ornamented with fine spiral cords, a sculpture consisting of rather short, slightly bended axial ribs on the adapical part of the whorls and two or more accentuated spiral cords at the transition to the base,” the paper reads.

The new discovery was compared to a similar species found off the Falkland Islands, and another which was found in the same bay by Fraussen and Sellanes in 2008.

Researchers believe this is just one in a long line of discoveries that will come as this region of the world is further explored.

“The fauna off southern Chile, the Pacific Ocean counterpart of the Patagonian region, is still mostly underestimated by malacologists (scientists who study Mollusca which includes sea snails) even though a number of endemic species have recently been described,” the paper states.

The research that led to the discovery of Jerrybuccinum kantori was funded by Chile’s Fondecyt science program, with support also coming from the US Navy. Kantor, who the species is named after, was also had a hand in the project, preparing the radula and statocyst, which are keys in differentiating between the types of species.

Given Chile’s amazing range of climates, landscapes, and ecosystems, it is no wonder researchers are excited to work here. Last year scientists were excited to find evidence of a rare species of orca, or killer whale, in the waters off of Chilean Antarctica. At the same time ongoing digs across the country are uncovering new information about the unique species that roamed the country thousands of years ago, including a massive whale graveyard in the northern desert and an ancient giant reptile in the Bío Bío region.