"Loco" is the "Mollusk of the Year" for 2023!
For a few years now, the Senckenberg Museum Frankfurt, the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG), and Unitas Malacologica have been promoting the election of “Mollusks of the Year.” The endeavor is non-discriminatory: Anyone can nominate their favorite species, from any geographic area. Species from marine, land, and freshwater environments are eligible. The selection takes place in March ever year, and TBG will sequence the complete genome (the entire DNA, comprising all genetic information) of the selected species.
This year’s selection is the “Loco”, Concholepas concholepas, a very unconventional species of gastropod from Chile and Peru, where it is a traditional seafood staple (I tried it a few years ago during a visit to the coastal town of Coquimbo, in Chile). Concholepas concholepas belongs in the murex family (the Muricidae), but has an unusual, “open” shell that basically lacks a well-defined spire, resembling the abalones (The “English name” Chilean Abalone is in my opinion inappropriate, because “Locos” are not abalones, being only very remotely related to them.) For more on this year’s selection and the other four nominees check here.