One of the most interesting marine molluscs in our collection consists of two paratypes of Chrysomallon squamiferum, which is a species belonging to the group of the deep sea hydrothermal-vent snails. It is commonly known as the Scaly-foot Gastropod or Scaly-foot Snail, also known as Sea Pangolin. A fascinating and very unusual fact is about this mollusc is that the foot is protected at the sides with iron mineralised sclerites, these are quite obvious in the photograph (from the original description: Chen, Linse, Copley & Rogers, 2015). The shell is also composed of iron sulphides that is quite unusual for molluscs since the shells are normally composed of calcium carbonate.
This mollusc’s habitat is unique in that it is found only at these hydrothermal vents at depths ranging from 2400 – 2800m in the Indian Ocean. It was recently declared endangered on the IUCN Red List, due to the fact these vents (its habitat) are now at risk of being mined for the high quality metal ores that are present at these thermal vents. There are only three reported localities worldwide of this species which was only described in 2015, and sadly there is already a very real danger of it becoming extinct if the mining of its habitat goes ahead.