Georissa Mawsmaiensis: New Snail species discovered in Meghalaya cave
October 24, 2021

A new micro snail species has been found from deep inside a limestone cave at Mawsmai Village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. The news was shared by the scientists who discovered the species on October 21, 2021. 

The newly found snails, the scientific name ‘Georissa Mawsmaiensis’ are so small in size that an adult measures less than 2 millimeters in length.

The latest discovery was made by NA Aravind and Nipu Kumar Das, scientists of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore.

As per ATREE, “We have named this new species as Georissa Mawsmaiensis’ after this limestone cave, Mawsmai. We collected the snails on the moist limestone rocks, 4-5m inside the cave entrance. However, at present, we don’t know whether our species is a true cave species or not.”

New snail species different from Georissa Saritta

A member of the same group (genus), ‘Georissa Saritta’, was discovered in the area 170 years ago.

The two scientists who discovered the new snail species said that their species was a little bit different from Genorissa Saritta which was documented in 1851 by WH Benson, an amateur malacologist and a civil servant in British India.

The new species of snail is different in shell size in comparison to the earlier one. Besides, it also has four very prominent spiral striations on the body whorls of the shell in comparison to seven in Georissa Saritta.

Until now, five snail species have been found from the Meghalaya caves and there could also be more.

Tourist footfall can affect ecology of area

Meghalaya is famous for its caves, and the two scientists from Bangalore are concerned that the tourist footfalls can affect the ecology of the area.

As per the scientists, the cave has a very unique environment that can harbour unique faunal diversity. There are also several studies on the cave biodiversity in Southeast Asian countries and the other parts of the world reporting various animals including snails. However, there are very few studies from the Indian caves.

Mawsmai Cave in Meghalaya

Meghalaya’s Mawsmai Cave is one of the major tourist attractions of Sohra, erstwhile Cherrapunji.

Lately, cemented floors and steps and artificial lights have been added inside to make the cave more tourist-friendly.