Snails with strange names

Some snails received very strange scientific names in my hands, derived from two other interests of mine: mythology and geek culture. These species are all listed below, with an explanation of their names. (For an overview of many geek species names, check this link [HERE]).


Cortana carvalhoiThis one is actually a genus, not a particular species. It belongs to the family Bulimulidae, one of the most diverse and colorful group of land snails in Latin America. But this one is a fossil, from the late Paleocene or early Eocene of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The name was taken from Cortana, a character from the sci-fi game franchise HALO.

The only species in the genus is called Cortana carvalhoi. The genus was described [HERE].

Gastrocopta sharae

image descriptionThis species belong to the family Gastrocoptidae. It was discovered inside a large cavern in central Brazil.

It was named after Shar, a goddess from the Faerûnian pantheon of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Shar is the goddess of darkness, caverns and secrets, so it is a fitting name for a tiny snail that lives hidden in the dark recesses of a cavern.

The species was described [HERE], but you can also read the press release [HERE]. It lives in the Revolucionários Cave (“Gruta Revolucionários”, in Portuguese), near the city of Mambaí, Goiás state, Brazil.

Halystina umberlee

Halystina umberleeThis species belongs to the family Seguenziidae. They are very small deep-sea snails, with delicate and beautifully sculptured shells.

It was named after Umberlee, a goddess from the Faerûnian pantheon of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The Queen of the Deeps is an evil goddess who commands the harshness and perils of the sea. Sailors and merchants always make offerings before traveling to appease her.

Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms, told me this: “As the creator of the goddess Umberlee, it lifts my heart to know that a real creature will bear her name. To put it colloquially: that is VERY cool!”

The species was described [HERE]. It is known from the Atlantic Ocean of southeastern Brazil (Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro), from depths of 950 to 1550 m.

Obeliscus boitata

image descriptionThis species belong to the family Subulinidae.

Its name comes from Brazilian folklore. The monster called boitatá was thought of as a snake with fiery eyes. It is the Brazilian version of the will-o’-the-wisp.

The species was described [HERE]. It is known only from the city of Nanuque, in Minas Gerais state, southeastern Brazil.

Pseudotorinia phorcysi

Pseudotorinia phorcysiThis species belong to the family Architectonicidae, commonly called the “sundials”. They are small deep-sea snails, with sturdy and densely sculptured shell.

Its name comes from the Greek mythology. Phorcys is the god of the hidden dangers of the deep-sea.

The species was described [HERE]. It is known from the Atlantic Ocean of southeastern Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), from depths of circa 450 m.

Rapturella ryani

In this paper, we described a new genus and a new species. They belong to the family Acteonidae, whose members are commonly known as “barrel bubble snails”. They are small deep-sea snails, with barrel-like shells.

The genus, Rapturella, was named after Rapture, the city in the bottom of the ocean in the video game series Bioshock. The species name, R. ryani, honors Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture. The new genus and species appeared on Bioshock’s Facebook page and drew quite a lot of likes and shares. 🙂


The genus and the species were described [HERE]. The genus also houses a second species, R. globulina, known from the Greek Mediterranean to the Canary Islands. Rapturella ryani is known from Florida.

Seguenzia triteia

Seguenzia triteiaThis is another species from the family Seguenziidae (see Halystina umberlee, above).

The name is derived from the Greek mythology. Triteia was the daughter of Triton, the messenger of the sea. She was a haliad (a sea nymph) and priestess of Athena. The city of Triteia (in Achaea, Greece) is said to have been named by Malanippos, Triteia’s son with the war god Ares.

The species was described [HERE]. It is known from the Atlantic Ocean of southeastern Brazil (Espírito Santo), from depths of circa 1550 m.

Urticicola perchtae

This fossil snail belongs to the family Hygromiidae, a group of small land snails whose shell often bear small hairs.

The species name comes from Perchta (or Berchta), a Germanic goddess from the Alpine region that was probably derived from the ancient Celtic Lady of the Beasts. She is a southern counterpart of the northern German Holda. Although her image was much deteriorated under Christian influence (to the point of becoming a simple evil spirit or witch), she was originally a goddess of winter, spinning and beasts and was said to wear a beautiful white garb, her name meaning “the bright one”.

The species was described [HERE]. It is known from the Miocene of southern Germany.