Conserved shell disguises diversity in Mesodontrachia land snails from the Australian Monsoon Tropics (Gastropoda: Camaenidae)


Corresponding author: Frank Köhler, Australian Museum, 6 College St., Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia. E-mail:


We comprehensively revise the taxonomy of the camaenid genus Mesodontrachia Solem, 1985, which is endemic to the Victoria River District and East Kimberley in the north-western Australian Monsoon Tropics based on comparative analyses of key morphological features and mitochondrial DNA sequences. We examined newly collected samples from several collection sites spread over nearly 20 000 km2 of mostly inaccessible land, which represented all three currently known and three previously undescribed species. All species were initially identified as members of Mesodontrachia based on their similar, putatively typical shell. However, Mesodontrachia as so delimited was polyphyletic in a mitochondrial phylogeny with respect to several other camaenid genera from NW Australia. Contrary to the shell, we found considerable variation in the penial anatomy that was consistent with the mtDNA differentiation. To retain monophyletic taxa, we propose a revised taxonomy whereby Mesodontrachia is maintained as a monotypic taxon. In addition, four genera (Nodulabium, Ototrachia, Pseudomesodontrachia and Vincentrachia) and three species (P. gregoriana, O. compressa and N. solidum) are newly described. The shell of all these taxa is highly conserved and of little taxonomic utility. Shell similarity is attributed to a similar life style in a similar and harsh environment.