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Three snails thought extinct discovered

Three snails listed as extinct have been rediscovered, the Nature Conservancy announced Tuesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Three snails listed as extinct have been rediscovered in the Coosa and Cahaba rivers, the Nature Conservancy announced Tuesday.

Jeff Garner, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' mollusk biologist, rediscovered the cobble elimia and the nodulose Coosa River snail on a dive in the Coosa River.

Stephanie Clark, a University of Alabama postdoctoral student from Australia, stumbled onto a Cahaba pebblesnail on a trip to the Cahaba River in Bibb County.

The findings, being announced by the Nature Conservancy, were reported Tuesday by The Birmingham News.

Alabama is known to be the nation's top spot for extinct and imperiled mollusks, the snails and mussels in river beds. Many were lost as dams were built along the Coosa River from 1917 to 1967, when it became a series of reservoirs.

In recent years, scientists have discovered some species hiding in the streams between reservoirs where the Coosa retains some of its original habitat.

Garner went diving below Lake Logan Martin and found two species that had not been spotted since the dams changed the river. Clark was accompanying a graduate student to the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge when she found the Cahaba pebblesnail that had not been spotted since 1965.

Garner, who has found several other species believed to be extinct, knew what he had immediately.

"One of these I found is pretty distinctive," Garner told the News. "I've always said it was my favorite snail — I hated it was extinct. It sort of has teardrops around the periphery."

Clark, who began postdoctoral research at the University of Alabama last year, didn't know what she had found at first.

"Behold, there was this oddball snail under a rock," Clark said. "I didn't know that I'd found an extinct one straightaway, but I knew I'd found something that I hadn't seen before."

The Cahaba pebblesnail — round, yellow, only about a quarter of an inch long — had not been spotted since 1965.