A team of biologists from the Natural History Museum of Stuttgart in Germany and the Zoology Museum of São Paulo in Brazil have discovered a new species of a tiny land snail found in the caves of Brazil. And, this tiny gastropod has apparently been named after a character from the popular role-playing game known as Dungeons & Dragons!
The group, led by Dr. Rodrigo Salvador, Daniel Cavallari and Dr. Luiz Simone, encountered a lot of different species from Brazilian caves and focused as well on the terrestrial gastropods residing there.
They published their findings in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, including their latest discovery of the tiny snail that measured only 2 mm in length, and naming it Gastrocopta sharae. This was from the Dungeons & Dragons character Shar, the goddess of darkness, caverns and secrets.
According to the authors of the study, “It’s a fitting name for a tiny snail that lives hidden in the dark recesses of a cavern. Usually biologists tend to honour Greek and Roman deities when naming species, but the goddess Shar has a more colourful background. She is from Dungeons & Dragons, the most famous role-playing game in the world, currently in its 5th edition and a staple of geek culture.”
This also isn’t the first time that a new species was named after a Dungeons & Dragons character. Apparently, another snail was discovered in deep waters by the same team of biologists and was named Halystina umberlee, after the Dungeons & Dragons goddess Umberlee, who controls the perils of the sea.
“Getting to know the fauna inhabiting each cavern is a demanding task, but a much-needed one,” adds the authors, as they describe the scarce and threatened invertebrates that dwell in caves. “Caverns are known to have very fragile ecosystems and several lack proper protection, so works like ours are an important step for conservation efforts.”