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Phuphania Crossei: Rare Luminescent Land Snail Wins International Mollusc of the Year 2024

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The luminous land snail Phuphania crossei has been charmingly nicknamed a “living glow stick”. (Photo: Faculty of Science at Chulalongkorn University)

Deep within the heart of Saraburi, a small creature was unveiled, one that turned the scientific community into a maelstrom of excitement. This dazzling land snail, adorably known as a “living glow stick,” became the first of its kind to be identified in an astounding 80 years. This monumental discovery, endorsed by Chulalongkorn University, quickly garnered international acclaim. The luminescent snail, officially christened Phuphania crossei, earned the prestigious title of “International Mollusc of the Year 2024,” a distinction bestowed by a leading European biodiversity institute, as shared by Arthit Polyotha, a seasoned biology lecturer from the university.

The enchanting tale of Phuphania crossei began in August 2020, amid the rugged limestone mountains of Kaeng Khoi district in Saraburi. Mr. Arthit and his dedicated team of researchers embarked on an arduous and meticulous journey to unearth this extraordinary being. Their pursuit traced back to a hypothesis; Thai land snails within the Phuphania family shared genetic kinship with the luminous land snail family, Quantula. This connection was first identified by Japanese researchers who discovered the world’s very first luminous land snail in Singapore back in 1942.

Fast forward to their serendipitous find in 2020, the research on Phuphania crossei was far from complete. For three years, the team delved deep into the intricacies of this otherworldly creature. Their findings were immortalized in Issue 13 of Scientific Reports last year, a testament to their relentless pursuit of knowledge.

What makes Phuphania crossei so enthralling is their remarkable ability to emit a soft, continuous glow, unlike their Quantula relatives who only blink whilst in motion. Whether it’s the bright daylight or the blanket of night, these snails never cease to illuminate. They perform this luminescent dance via specialized cells located on their foot and mantle, creating an ethereal spectacle.

But locating these shy luminescent wonders was no easy feat. Their minuscule size, adept hiding skills, and tendency for inactivity made them a rare find among the leaves, decaying logs, and damp nooks where they typically reside. Mr. Arthit detailed this painstaking treasure hunt, recounting how his team searched by day, sifting through nature’s camouflage, before testing their collected specimens for luminescence in dark, controlled environments.

This luminous pursuit culminated in the International Mollusc of the Year contest, a celebrated event orchestrated by the Loewe Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics, Senckenberg Naturmuseum, and Unitas Malacologica. The honor bestowed upon Phuphania crossei was not just a recognition of the snail’s unique glow but a celebration of the wondrous curiosity and perseverance that led to its discovery.


  1. Alex M June 12, 2024

    This is incredible! Nature never ceases to amaze me. A glowing snail, who would have thought!

    • Benny June 12, 2024

      It’s pretty cool, but I question the implications of our fascination with luminescence. Are we focusing too much on these ‘spectacular’ traits and neglecting other important biodiversity issues?

      • Alex M June 12, 2024

        Fair point, but discoveries like this can spark interest and funding for broader ecological research.

      • ScienceFan98 June 12, 2024

        Exactly, Benny. We can’t let the glow distract us from deeper ecological issues. Still, it’s an amazing find!

  2. Sarah J June 12, 2024

    Amazing discovery! How did they manage to spot such a small and elusive creature?

    • Nathan L June 12, 2024

      They searched during the day and tested for luminescence in dark, controlled environments. Pretty dedicated team!

    • EcoGeek June 12, 2024

      It’s fascinating what they can uncover with patience and technology. They must have been super meticulous.

    • Sarah J June 12, 2024

      Thanks, Nathan and EcoGeek! Their meticulous methods are really admirable.

  3. Hannah P June 12, 2024

    What’s the point of awarding an ‘International Mollusc of the Year’? Shouldn’t we focus on more impactful environmental projects?

    • Glenn_W June 12, 2024

      Recognizing unique discoveries might seem trivial, but it highlights biodiversity and brings attention to lesser-known creatures.

    • MolluscLover June 12, 2024

      Agreed with Glenn. These awards can lead to increased awareness and conservation efforts. Every little bit helps!

    • Hannah P June 12, 2024

      I guess you’re right. Anything that promotes conservation is a step in the right direction.

  4. Jamie K June 12, 2024

    Are these snails endangered? Shouldn’t we be doing more to protect their habitat?

    • Mark S June 12, 2024

      Good question. Protecting their habitat should definitely be a priority if they are rare and hard to find.

  5. Linda Gomez June 12, 2024

    The fact that the snail can glow constantly is like something out of a fairy tale. Science truly is magical!

  6. Rational_Thinker June 12, 2024

    What practical applications could this glow have? Or is it just a nifty trick nature plays?

    • Dr. Spencer June 12, 2024

      Bioluminescence studies can lead to various applications, from medical imaging to environmental monitoring. It’s more than just a ‘nifty trick.’

      • Rational_Thinker June 12, 2024

        Interesting! I hadn’t considered that. Thanks for the insight, Dr. Spencer.

  7. Tanya June 12, 2024

    The discovery process seems grueling. Kudos to the researchers for their dedication!

    • Jason Q June 12, 2024

      Absolutely, they must have spent countless hours in the wild. True dedication to science!

  8. CuriousOne June 12, 2024

    How does the glow mechanism work exactly? Does anyone know?

    • BioGeek June 12, 2024

      They have specialized cells on their foot and mantle that emit light. It’s a fascinating biological process called bioluminescence.

    • Rachel T June 12, 2024

      These cells contain luciferase enzymes which react with luciferins to produce light. It’s like a biochemical reaction!

      • CuriousOne June 12, 2024

        Thanks, BioGeek and Rachel! That’s really cool!

  9. WildlifeWatches June 12, 2024

    These snails are so elusive. Do we know if they have any predators?

  10. Aaron P June 12, 2024

    I find it a bit ridiculous to spend so much time and resources on a glowing snail. What’s next, a dancing worm?

  11. Jackie S June 12, 2024

    What’s the use of discovering a glowing snail? Will it make a real difference?

    • Joshua June 12, 2024

      Every discovery adds to our understanding of biodiversity. Who knows what we might learn from this?

  12. Nia M June 12, 2024

    Why do some creatures evolve to have such fascinating traits? It’s like nature’s own light show.

    • EcoLass June 12, 2024

      It’s usually related to survival. Perhaps the glow deters predators or plays a role in mating.

  13. Shane O’Neill June 12, 2024

    I’m more interested in the role these snails play in their ecosystem. Do they contribute significantly?

  14. Maya B June 12, 2024

    While it’s cool, it doesn’t seem particularly groundbreaking to me. More flash than substance, no?

  15. Kara June 12, 2024

    The sheer fact that they needed to be identified for three years says how delicate our ecosystem is. We should do more for conservation.

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