A newly discovered snail that lives in a remote Tasmanian forest has been named after a giant of the conservation world – Sir David Attenborough.
The colourful red and green mollusc was named Attenborougharion rubicundus by the Australian Museum in a tribute to the world-famous naturalist, who is currently on a speaking tour in Sydney.
It was discovered last December by two of the museum’s scientists while they were working in forests on the Tasman and Forestier peninsulas, near Port Arthur in Tasmania’s south east.
“We could think of no better person to name a new genus after than Sir David Attenborough,” the museum’s chief executive Kim McKay told AAP on Wednesday.
“Given he was visiting and he’s now 90 years of age we thought it would be a wonderful tribute and one he’d greatly appreciate.
The 35mm-long snail is the latest in a long line of animals and plants including a prehistoric marine reptile, the Sirdavidia flower, bugs, and a long-beaked echidna to be named after Sir David.
The snail lives in just 80 square kilometres of wet forest and has been listed as a vulnerable species due to its sensitivity to changes in climate and habitat.
As well as choosing Sir David’s name for the snail, the Australian Museum has made him its first Lifetime Patron in recognition of his extensive work in the fields of natural science and conservation.
“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,” he said.
“Today, it is a scientific centre of world importance, and it is a great honour to be made a Lifetime Patron.”
Sir David will receive the museum’s highest honour during a ceremony on Wednesday.