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Notopala waterhousii (A. Adams & Angas, 1864)

Diagnostic features

This species has a restricted distribution and is the largest species of Notopala. It differs from those species in its much larger size, often shouldered whorls, and uniform greenish colour (sometimes with faint lines). N. kingi occurs sympatrically with N. waterhouseii in some locations.


Notopala waterhousii (A. Adams & Angas, 1864)

Common name: Waterhouse's River Snail

Class Gastropoda

Subclass Caenogastropod

Order Architaenioglossa

Superfamily Viviparioidea

Family Viviparidae

Subfamily: Bellamyinae

Genus Notopala Cotton, 1835

Original name: Vivipara waterhousii A.Adams & Angas, 1864. Adams, A. and Angas, G. F. (1864). Descriptions of new species of freshwater shells collected by Mr. F. G. Waterhouse during J. McDonald Stuart’s overland Journey from Adelaide to the north west coast of Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1863: 414-418.

Type locality: Newcastle Waters, Arnhem Land (as 'Arnheim’s Land').

State of taxonomy

The taxonomy used here for Viviparidae is largely based on unpublished research by W. Ponder. Several undescribed taxa are known that mainly occur in areas outside the distribution of the species recognised here.

Biology and ecology

Lives in large permanent billabongs and large ponds, on mud. Although the biology of this species has not been studied, its anatomy shows that it is at least in part a suspension feeder, using the gill for filtering food from the water like other viviparids, and that it broods its eggs in the pallial oviduct. It releases its young simultaneously.


Northern inland Northern Territory (restricted in distribution to a few waterholes in the vicinity of Newcastle Waters and Elliot on the Stuart Hwy south of Darwin).


Stoddart (1982) and Smith (1992) incorrectly used this name to encompass N. kingi and N. sublineata alisoni.

Further reading

Cotton, B. C. (1935a). The Australian viviparous river snails. Victorian Naturalist 52: 96-99.

Cotton, B. C. (1935b). Recent Australian Viviparidae and a fossil species. Records of the South Australian Museum 5: 339-344.

Iredale, T. (1943). A basic list of the fresh water Mollusca of Australia. Australian Zoologist 10: 188-230.

Sheldon, F. & Walker, K. F. (1993). Shell variation in Australian Notopala (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia: Viviparidae). Journal of the Malacological Society of Australia 14: 59-71.

Smith, B. J. (1992). Non-marine Mollusca. Pp. i-xii, 1-408 in W. W. K. Houston. Zoological Catalogue of Australia, 8. Canberra, Australian Government Publishing Service.

Stoddart, J. A. (1982). Western Australian viviparids (Prosobranchia: Mollusca). Journal of the Malacological Society of Australia 5: 167-173.