Twisted and Crooked


Opisthostoma vermiculum (by Reuben Clements)

Malaysia is one of the 12 Mega-Biodiversity Countries as recognised by the Convention of Biological Diversity. 75% of all the species of the Earth can be found in these 12 countries. These countries are therefore particularly rich in the number and uniqueness of the species found there.

So it may not be too surprising that two newly discovered Malaysian species made it into the Top 10 New Species for 2009 list. The first is a new species of stick insect which is now recognised as the biggest in the world.

The second species is Opisthostoma vermiculum which is an unusual snail species which has so far only been recovered from the top of a single limestone outcrop. Apart from its incredibly limited range, it is also unique because its shell forms twist about four coiling axes. Most snails form coils only along a single axis though before this, coils formed about as many as three axes have been known but not 4 axes. (the axes are shown on the photo).

Basically, all that is just a fancy way to say that this is one crooked shell. The scientific name for the snail means ‘worm-like”. I hope you like this strange creature.

This new species is a very important discovery. Scientists believe that something in the difficult limestone habitat made this creature to develop this unusually crooked shell. Sociologists, in turn, believe that this may be the missing link or key to explain why so many Malaysian politicians are equally convoluted and crooked; it is a natural result of the Malaysian environment!

After pondering this revelation, I was inspired to write this following poem.

“There was a crooked man who cooked up a crooked plan,
To build a crooked bridge so that he could be crooked rich,
He cut down the forest trees for one of his crooked schemes,
And sold out the next generation, for he was a crooked politician.”

(I have posted about the crooked bridge before. To read all about it, click HERE!)

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