Past the silence

The past two weeks it has been silent here. Not because there was nothing happening, but technicalities prevented me from posting. Sometimes a firewall is too strict to allow outgoing messages…

Actually, I have been working in the Brussels museum, on invitation of Thierry Backeljau, the current curator of malacology.


My prime interest was the type collection. According to their database, there are not more than 30 type lots for the Orthalicoidea. However, upon inspection, several appeared to be bearing manuscript names only. Others were e.g. hypotypes
(a described or figured specimen, used in publication extending or correcting the knowledge of a previously defined species; Frizzel, 1933: 653).
Of the ones with manuscript names two at least were undescribed species. However, of both of them only one specimen was present and the locality was rather vague.
Several taxa described by Nyst and supposedly present here, had not been found so far. However, Rose Sablon, the collection mamager knew there was a separate place were hypotypes were stored. Indeed, the type material IS
present 🙂

The types are stored separately in the Dautzenberg collection, which is in a separate huge room. Every type is stored in zipped bags inside transparent plastic boxes.

Apart from the types, the Dautzenberg collection is especially interesting. It is still in its original state and indexed by a huge card
index system. Also his personal library and his archive are still intact. This enabled me – with the help of Rose Sablon – to track the origin of the many specimens I found with labels “coll. Cousin”. Auguste Cousin was French, and lived for many years in Ecuador during the second half of the 19th century. He travelled the country extensively (presumably on horseback) and brought together a large collection. He published only once on his results (Cousin, 1887); it is one of the baseline studies for the Ecuadorian malacofauna. 


In the Dautzenberg archive we found an inventory of Cousin’s collection. As it appears, it was purchased by Dautzenberg in 1913; however it is not known from whom. Just as a guess, it could be G??ret, a Paris based merchant who also sold parts of the Ancey collection to Dautzenberg.
Cousin, A., 1887. Faune mamalcologique de la r??publique de l’??quateur. – Bulletin de la Soci??t?? zoologique de France 12: 187-287.
Frizzel, D.L., 1933. Terminology of types. – American Midland Naturalist 14: 637-668.

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