Over 150 years ago, a marble fireplace was imported from the mountains in Tuscany to a grand old house overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay.
Over the years and as the house became a boarding school no more was thought about it ... until an unusual slippery species of slug was spotted in the grounds of Fyling Hall School.
Not a native to North Yorkshire, the slugs have baffled staff and specialist scientists.
They have been DNA tested and results linked them to a species that comes from the Appennine Mountains in Tuscany where the marble came from.
After some research and trawling through the history books it is thought that some slug eggs may have accidentally been imported into the UK on the fireplace.
While boffins work out an official name for the breed, they have, in the meantime, been given a common name and dubbed ‘The Fylingthorpe Slug’.
Deputy headteacher, Dr Ian Richardson said: “It is in the hands of scientists.
“They are rather large and not very pleasant looking but Fyling Hall will have its own slug.
“They are just waiting for the scientific name. It is in the early stages and they will have to go through more testing.”
Students are now trying to find out more about the strange breed and have set up tanks in science lessons with different types of foods to see what they eat and survive on.
The scientific breakthrough came when then biology teacher Marie Perry spotted them, thought they were unusual and sent a picture of one to her teacher training supervisor .
The school has since been visited in lessons by Dr Terry Crawford from the University of York, also chairman of the Yorkshire Conchological Society, and he didn’t recognise them either.
Dr Richardson added: “There is a species there that they are related to and they are definitely not a British species.
“That area of Tuscany has a lot of marble and they were asking us did we have any fireplaces and we still have a few in the house.
“They have been around school for ages and we kind of ignored them really.
“But this could be a new species and for the students this is science in action, the process scientists go through and the front end of ecology.
“You would not have thought any of this just from a piece of marble coming over 150 years ago from somewhere in the middle of Tuscany.”