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For the village in Iran, see Latia, Iran.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Heterobranchia
clade Euthyneura
clade Panpulmonata
clade Hygrophila
Superfamily: Chilinoidea
Family: Latiidae
Hutton, 1882[1]
Genus: Latia
Gray, 1850[2]
one or three extant species,

one fossil species


Pelex Gould, 1852

Latia is a genus of very small, air-breathing freshwater snails or limpets, aquatic pulmonate gastropod molluscs in the superfamily Chilinoidea.[5]

Latia is the only genus in the family Latiidae.

Species in this genus are the only freshwater bioluminescent molluscs in the world.[6]


The Latiidae family has been classified within the superfamily Chilinoidea, itself belonging to the clade Hygrophila within the informal group Basommatophora in the informal group Pulmonata (according to the taxonomy of the Gastropoda by Bouchet & Rocroi, 2005).[5]

There are no subfamilies in the family Latiidae (according to the taxonomy of the Gastropoda by Bouchet & Rocroi, 2005).[5]

Latia is the only genus in the family Latiidae, in other words Latiidae is a monotypic family and Latia is the type genus of the family Latiidae. This genus was previously placed instead in a larger family of freshwater limpets, the Ancylidae.


This genus is endemic to the North Island of New Zealand.


This genus lives in clean running streams and rivers.[7]

Shell description[edit]

Shell is ancyliform, with the apex marginal, and situated at the left posterior side, incurved, small.[8]

Aperture is very large, oval. The margin of the aperture is thin and sharp; posteriorly with a narrow, thin, concave lamina, its right edge bent down and free, forming a thin and sharp-edged vertical lamella.[8]


This genus is remarkable by the absence of a jaw.[8]

Animal has eyes at the outer bases of the tentacles. The foot is elongated oval. The pulmonary cavity, its opening on the right side. Visceral commissure is long. There is no jaw. Central tooth of radula is bicuspidate, laterals are unicuspidate and marginals are tricuspidate.[8]

Life habits[edit]

These freshwater limpets are capable of secreting a bioluminescent substance when disturbed.[6] Theories vary as to the purpose of the bioluminescence, but indicate it is a defence mechanism. One theory is that when a predator disturbs the Latia, Latia release the bioluminescent slime, and the preator chases the light rather than the Latia. Another theory is that the slime will attach to the predator causing confusion and alarm, or indeed, making the predator vulnerable and visible to other nocturnal predators.[9][10] As the Latia release the slime when feeling threatened, it is conceivable Latia could be used as a monitor for illegal pollution dumping[10] or other water quality issues.


Species in the genus Latia include:


This article incorporates public domain text from the reference[8]

  1. ^ Hutton F. W. (1882). Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 14: 156.
  2. ^ Gray (1850). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 17: 168.
  3. ^ Strong E. E., Gargominy O., Ponder W. F. & Bouchet P. (2008). "Global Diversity of Gastropods (Gastropoda; Mollusca) in Freshwater". Hydrobiologia 595: 149-166. hdl:10088/7390 doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9012-6.
  4. ^ a b Marshall B. A. (2011). "A new species of Latia Gray, 1850 (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Hygrophila: Chilinoidea: Latiidae) from Miocene Palaeo-lake Manuherikia, southern New Zealand, and biogeographic implications". Molluscan Research 31(1): 47-52. abstract.
  5. ^ a b c Bouchet P.; Rocroi J.-P.; Frýda J.; Hausdorf B.; Ponder W.; Valdés Á. & Warén A. (2005). "Classification and nomenclator of gastropod families". Malacologia: International Journal of Malacology. Hackenheim, Germany: ConchBooks. 47 (1-2): 1–397. ISBN 3-925919-72-4. ISSN 0076-2997. 
  7. ^ Powell A. W. B. (1979). New Zealand Mollusca, William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand, ISBN 0-00-216906-1.
  8. ^ a b c d e Suter H. (1913). Manual of the New Zealand Mollusca. Wellington. pages 615-616.
  9. ^ "Underwater Life - Macroinvertibrates - More Information". (Formerly Waitakere City Council) Auckland City Council. 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "School Water Monitoring Project - Latia - the brightest freshwater invertebrate in the world". National Waterways Project - The Royal Society of New Zealand. October 3, 2006. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  • Marshall, B.A. (2011). A new species of Latia Gray, 1850 (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Hygrophila: Chilinoidea: Latiidae) from Miocene palaeo-lake Manuherikia, southern New Zealand, and biogeographic implications. Molluscan Research 31 (1): 47-52.

External links[edit]