A new species of vermetid gastropod belonging to the genus Novastoa Finlay, 1926, N. rapaitiensis sp. nov., is described from French Polynesia and the Great Barrier Reef, based on morpho-anatomical and molecular data, increasing the recognized extant diversity of this genus from five to six species. The new species is characterized by the largest operculum in the genus to date, with a conspicuous spindle-shaped mammilla that readily distinguishes this species from its congeners. Based on available data, members of the studied populations of N. rapaitiensis sp. nov. are interpreted as a single species, although slight morphological and color differences exist between localities separated by up to 7000 km. The larval development of N. rapaitiensis sp. nov. is inferred to be direct, raising new questions about genetic connectivity and dispersal trajectories across a vast geographic range. Additional molecular data may prove helpful in refining our current knowledge on the morphological variability within this species and verifying the degree of cryptic diversity in this genus.
Vermetidae, Novastoa rapaitiensis sp. nov., Pacific Ocean, taxonomy, morphology.