Beloved pet dog lives on in name of newly described Pilbara land snail species, Bothriembryon rocketi

18 May 2024

Bothriembryon rocketi, the first of its kind described from the rugged, semi-arid Pilbara, has been named by WA Museum scientists Corey Whisson and Dr. Lisa Kirkendale. 

Mel Watts and Rob Ranalli, two Foundation for the WA Museum donors, who bought the rights to name a species at an auction, chose the name Bothriembryon rocketi in memory of their beloved pet dog Rocket, who passed away in May 2023. 

The new snail species is particularly special, as the group is usually found in the wetter and cooler parts of southern WA. Its wide occurrence across the scenic Hamersley Range in the Pilbara is the most northern record of the group in Australia. While many snails exhibit quite restricted distributions, this particular species is quite widespread, and you could say has in fact, rocketed across the landscape!  

Most of the specimens analysed in the study, which included genetic and morphological research, were collected by environmental consultants conducting impact assessments in the mineral-rich Pilbara over the last 20 years. 

This is not the last new species that will be described from the area, with more underway, so don’t fear, as B. rocketi won’t be lonely for long! A team from the WA Museum, along with national and international collaborators, is busy in the background constructing a comprehensive family tree to better characterize relationships among species, and highlight new ones, just like our ‘rugged rocketi’ ..

Want to get involved? Anyone interested in Western Australia’s land snails can contribute to improving knowledge about Bothriembryon by joining SnailSnap, a citizen science project on iNaturalist where members of the public can contribute photos of this special group. Snail Snap 2024 will run from June to August this year. More information to follow! 

Read more about the discovery at:

Fieldwork to complete taxonomic description was funded by the Foundation for the WA Museum by auctioning the right to name this species at the 2022 Night at the Museum Gala.

This sequencing work was funded by the Gorgon Project’s Barrow Island Net Conservation Benefits Fund. 

The WA Museum is excited to announce that the new snail has been selected to go on display at the WA Museum Boola Bardip in the Wild Life Gallery, so you can view and visit an authentic specimen up close and in person.