In “Snails Appear Reborn, or Were Overlooked” (New York Times, August 13, 2012), Sindya N. Bhanoo reports
A freshwater snail has been rediscovered on the Cahaba River in Alabama, 12 years after it was declared extinct.
But Mr. Whelan, whose doctoral research is on snails, had a hunch that it might still be out there.
So he and friends spent a day looking.
They found rocksnails along a stretch, and collected about 30 specimens to study in the lab.
There is reason for believing that extinctions are identified too quickly these days. Consider the many “Lazarus” species: One third of species believed recently extinct turn up again.
If a group of guys out for a day’s kayaking, including one snail researcher looking for the rocksnail, strikes pay dirt, we have to know that the paperwork is being processed too fast.
Is it possible that some species just get by secretively with low numbers, for far longer than we might expect?
Good job it isn’t you in the ER.
Here’s Scientific American’s story.
See also: Extinct amphibian turns out not to be