Naming Snails

I saw several of the same type of terrestrial snails on a trail in a wooded area. I had a difficult time identifying the snail because many species of look very similar. A malacologist (a person who studies snails) uses several different criteria besides shell coloring. I narrowed the type of this snail down to the family of Polygyridae, but am not certain about the genus and species.

I wanted to talk about taxonomy which is how scientists name/classify living things. I still use a mnemonic from my high school biology teacher, Mr. Casini, to remember the taxonomy categories. The mnemonic is King Phillip Came Over From Germany Soon. It makes no sense but it helps me remember the letters KPCOFGS. I will use this snail’s taxonomy as an example.

K is for Kingdom: Animalia (unlike plants, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic organisms)

P is for Phyllum: Mollusca (a type of invertebrate, also includes octopus and scallops)

C is for Class: Gastropoda (which also includes conchs, abalone, periwinkles, and limpets)

O is for Order: Stylommatophora (land snails and slugs as opposed to aquatic snails)

F is for Family: Polygyridae (there are several different families of land snails but my snail appears to fall into this)

G is for Genus and S is for species: I wasn’t certain about the Genus and Species of this snail but thought it was likely Mesodon thyroidus (white-lip globe snail) or Webbhelix multineata (striped white-lip snail)