A curator from Australia's Queensland Museum made the shocking discovery of a rare mollusc after receiving a donation of a collection of shells from a local resident.
The new marine shell species was named amoria thorae after the donor Thora Whitehead, and the genus it belongs to, amoria, a variety of medium-sized shells commonly found off Australia's coasts.
The finding was published in the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum journal and announced to the public on Monday.
Queensland Museum's curator of Marine Environments and resident malacologist John Healy said the shell belongs to a marine snail that is so rare a live specimen has not yet been observed.
"I'd seen a shell of this marine snail illustrated in a book, but not officially described, so you can imagine my delight when photographing this new collection. I found not one, but two specimens of this potentially new species," said Healy.
"This species is extremely rare, and my hope is that one day the living animal will be found, photographed, and studied so we may better understand its biology and relationships."
The Thora Whitehead Collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections of marine shells in Australia, which contains a total of more than 200,000 specimens.
"Much of the material was collected by Thora over 50 years from localities around the Australian and especially Queensland coastlines, from habitats as diverse as mangroves, surf beaches, shell beds, rock platforms, and coral reefs," said Healy.
Healy said the value of the collection lies in the years of future research and education it would become the basis for.