Monthly Archives: January 2014

Itaborai review

Salvador & Simone just published a review of the malacofauna of the Itaboraí basin, which has yielded a rich fossil species deposit. Their current list counts up to 15, three of which they have described during recent work.

Itaborai f2

There are no taxonomical actions involved, and the paper is in Portuguese.

Salvador, R.B. & Simone, L.R.L. (2013 [2014]). A malacofauna fóssil da Bacia de Itaboraí, Rio de Janeiro: histórico dos estudos e perspectivas para o futuro. – Revista da Biologia 11(2): 1–6.

New Megalobulimus from Peru

Another end-of-the-year paper is on Peruvian Megalobulimus species by Borda & Ramírez. The abstract reads:

Megalobulimus K. Miller, 1878 is a genus of land snails that includes the largest living snails in the Neotropics. The main goal of this paper was to review all species of Megalobulimus that have a red lip, and which are distributed in Peru. We carried out a detailed description of their shells and soft parts, and conducted a multivariate analysis on their shells and geographic distribution. There are two species reported from Peru, Megalobulimus capillaceus (Pfeiffer, 1855) and Megalobulimus separabilis (Fulton, 1903). Megalobulimus capillaceus is known to occur in three regions – San Martín, Huánuco and Cusco – but the Cusco population is undoubtedly different from all remaining populations, and is recognized herein as a new species, Megalobulimus florezi sp. nov. This species has a more elongated shell, penis clubshaped, epiphallus longer, and free oviduct longer than M. capillaceus. By contrast, the male genitalia of M. separabilis is filiform and does not present an external diverticulum in the free oviduct.

Borda & Ramirez 2013


Borda, V. & Ramirez, R. (2013). Re-characterization of the red-lip Megalobulimus (Gastropoda: Strophocheilidae) from Peru with description of a new species. Zoologia 30: 675–691.

New Charopidae

Another recently published paper is by Miquel & Araya (2013). It introduces a new genus of Charopidae, a new species belonging to it and redefines an existing genus. The abstract reads:

Miquel & Araya 2013

A new genus and new species of Charopidae, Stephacharopa calderaensis, is described based on specimens collected in the Atacama region, northern Chile. The new genus is clearly distinct from its confamilial genera due to its axial shell sculpture. The new genus also includes the species Stephacharopa testalba (Hylton Scott, 1970) n. comb, and Stephacharopa distincta (Hylton Scott, 1970) n. comb. The related genus Stephadiscus Hylton Scott, 1981 is herein redefined. Species thus included in genus Stephadiscus are S. lyratus (Couthouy in Gould, 1846), S. rigophila Mabille, 1886, S. perversus (Hylton Scott, 1969), S. rumbolli (Hylton Scott, 1973) and S. stuardoi Miquel & Barker, 2009, all of them with a distribution restricted to humid areas of southern South America.

Miquel, S.E. & Araya, J.F. (2013). A new Charopidae from Chile and Argentine, Stephacharopa calderaensis n.gen. and n.sp., with remarks on the taxonomy of the genus Staphadiscus Hylton Scott 1981 (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Pulmonata). — Archiv für Molluskenkunde 142: 227–235.

New Eucalodium from Belize

At the end of the year, it is ‘rainy season’ for malacological papers. One from Thompson & Dourson (2013) describes a new species from Belize, Eucalodium belizensis. It is the first species of this genus reported from this country, where it was found in the Toledo District, north of San José.

The holotype is in the Florida States Museum, UF 44972.

Thompson, F.G. & Dourson, D.C. (2013). A new land snail of the genus Eucalodium (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Urocoptidae) from Belize. — The Nautilus 127: 153–155.

Andean slugs

Slugs are sometimes difficult to identify, their external appearance does not always give a clue. In the Neotropics, the family Veronicellidae is known for giving taxonomists often a hard time. Gomes et al. (2013) have now published a paper that sheds some light on species from the northwestern part of South America and are prone to be introduced with agricultural products in other countries. The abstract reads:

In this study, we propose C. confusus, new species, an Andean slug of the genus Colosius Thomé, 1975, and a newly recognized pest of coffee and cultivated flowers from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. We compare it with C. pulcher(Colosi, 1921), a poorly known species with which it has been confused. Our study is based on morphological analysis of a large number of specimens, including interceptions on cut-flowers and live plants by federal agricultural inspectors of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and material from eight museum collections. Genetic diversity within C. confusus, n. sp. and C. pulcher is also analysed based on fragments of cytochrome oxidase I (COI), and 16S rRNA. They are differentiated by reproductive characters and genes studied. In C. confusus, n. sp., the phallus has a deep longitudinal groove from the base, near the retractor muscle, to its distal region, close to the papilla. In C. pulcher, there is an oval to rectangular swelling on the basal region of the phallus. Some important differences between these species are also found in the digitiform gland and bursa copulatrix. We describe, illustrate and discuss the color variation, morphological similarities, diagnostic characters and its variation, habitat and distribution for each species. Genetic diversity within C. confusus, n. sp., and C. pulcher is low. In order to analyze their relationship with C. propinquus (Colosi, 1921) (currently a junior synonym of C. pulcher) and C. lugubris (Colosi, 1921) (type-species of Colosius), fragments of COI, 16S, and 28S rRNA genes are also analyzed in a sample of these species. C. confusus, n. sp., is a distinct lineage within the genus Colosius. It is not a sister species of C. pulcher, which has C. propinquusas a sister species, here recognized as valid. Colosius confusus, n. sp., is closer to the clade that includes C. pulcher and C. propinquus than it is to C. lugubris. Based on the phylogenetic reconstruction, C. lugubris is sister to all the other Colosius, although additional studies are required to formally test phylogenetic placements and monophyly of the genus. Associated imports and number of interceptions per year of C. confusus, n. sp., by agricultural inspectors are also presented.

The combination of morphological and molecular studies may give a better insight in this economically important group. Hopefully the authors continue their useful work.

Gomes, S.R., Robinson, D.G., Zimmerman, F.J., Obregón, O. & Barr, N.B. (2013). Morphological and Molecular Analysis of the Andean Slugs Colosius confusus, n. sp., A Newly Recognized Pest of Cultivated Flowers and Coffee from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and Colosius pulcher (Colosi, 1921) (Gastropoda, Veronicellidae).

Species catalogue for Argentina

Species catalogues are now available for all major Neotropical countries (the most prominent exception being Venezuela), but some of them tend to become a bit outdated. Gabriela Cuezzo and co-workers have just published an up-to-date one for the superfamily Orthalicoidea in Argentina (Cuezzo et al., 2013). The abstract reads as follows:

We provide here a catalogue of all available species nomina of Orthalicoidea occurring in Argentina. Ongoing taxonomic revisions on the genera Bostryx Troschel, 1847, Clessinia Doering, 1874, Pilsbrylia Hylton Scott, 1952, and Spixia Pilsbry & Vanatta, 1898, highlighted the necessity of an updated catalogue for the region. A total of 101 orthalicoidean species classified into four families, Bothriembryontidae, Bulimulidae, Odontostomidae and Simpulopsidae are present in Argentina. The catalogue provided here is based on examination of primary literature, available revisions and monographs, comparative studies within and among species and revision of museum data, including most type specimens. Additional collection of specimens in various localities of the country was carried out for more than a decade to be able to accurately state distributional information on the species treated. Nomenclatural details are provided for all nominal species. Name-bearing types were located for 86 species-group taxa, and six lectotypes were designated for the stabilization of the taxonomy. We propose the following nine new combinations: Bulimulus fourmiersi (d’Orbigny, 1835), Clessinia cordovana (Pfeiffer, 1855), Drymaeus flossdorfi (Holmberg, 1909), Cyclodontina (Ventanía) avellanedae(Doering, 1881), Simpulopsis (Eudioptus) eudioptus (Ihering in Pilsbry, 1897), Spixia champaquiana (Doering, 1875), S. charpentieri (Grateloup in Pfeiffer, 1850), S. minor (d’Orbigny, 1837) and S. parodizi (Hylton Scott, 1951). The following four new synonymies are proposed: Bostryx sophieae Breure, 1979, with Bulimus cordillerae (Strobel, 1874) (current name Bostryx cordillerae); Cyclodontina (Clessinia) gracilis Hylton Scott, 1956, with Bulimus cordovanus Pfeiffer, 1855 (current name Clessinia cordovana); Spixia estherae Fernández, 1971, withOdontostomus (Spixia) costellifer Hass, 1936 (current nameSpixia costellifer); Kuschelenia simulans Hylton Scott, 1951, with Helix tupacii d’Orbigny, 1835 (current name Scutalus tupacii). Bulimulus sporadicus gracilis Hylton Scott, 1948, is changed from subspecific to specific status.

Given the time-lag for publication (manuscript finally accepted in March 2013), all recent data have been included. And I think the author’s acknowledgement of the role of BHL is very apt as it is indeed becoming indispensable. For the coming years this is a major paper for the regional malacology.


Cuezzo, M.G., Miranda, M.J. & Ovando, X.M.C. (2013). Species catalogue of Orthalicoidea in Argentina (Gastropoda: Stylommatophora). — Malacologia 56: 135-191.

Apt for some confusion

Philipp Meinecke sent me a link to Always good to have a look on the other side of the fence (i.c. entomology).

This text and figures by Karl Kjer explain:


The snail-case caddisflies of the family Helicopsychidae were first recognized as the subfamily Helicopsychinae of Sericostomatidae by Ulmer (1906) and were retained there by a number of European workers well into the 1950s, most notably Ulmer himself (Ulmer 1955). Ross (1944) and other American workers considered the group a distinct family, reflecting its current status. As presently constituted, the family contains only 2 genera, the cosmopolitan Helicopsychevon Siebold with about 250 species, and the New Zealand endemic genus Rakiura McFarlane, with a single species, R. vernale McFarlane. Several previously recognized genera, including Cochliopsyche Müller (Neotropical), Petrotrichia Ulmer (Afrotropical, including Madagascar and the Seychelles, but absent from southern Africa), and Saetotrichia Brauer (Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia), were relegated as subgenera of Helicopsyche by Johanson (1998). In the same paper, Johanson described 2 additional subgenera of Helicopsyche: Feropsyche (Nearctic, Neotropical) and Galeopsyche(Korea, Vietnam). The nominotypical subgenus occurs in the Palearctic and Oriental regions. As a whole the family is poorly represented in the Northern Hemisphere, but reaches its greatest diversity in the tropics of the Old and New Worlds (Johanson 1997); the Neotropics alone hosts about 100 species.  Taken from Holzenthal et al. (2007).


Larvae of the genus are the familiar and remarkable snail-case builders. These helical, sand grain cases are so similar to snails that early workers described these insects as molluscs. Lea (1834) went so far as to say of Valvata arenifera(=Helicopsyche borealis), “It has the singular property of strengthening its whirls by the agglutination of particles of sand, and by which it is entirely covered.” While all helical, there is great diversity in the height of cases, the number and openness of the whorls, the size of mineral material, and the amount of silk incorporated. All helicopsychid larvae appear to feed as scrapers on periphyton and other organic matter on the exposed surfaces of rocks. They are found in slow flowing lowland streams as well as springs, small fast-flowing streams, and the wave-washed shores of lakes in temperate regions; they also occur in the hyporheic zone (Williams et al. 1983) and in thermal springs (Resh et al. 1984). The biology of the North American species, H. borealis (Hagen) is well known (Vaughn 1985a, b, 1987). Taken from Holzenthal et al. (2007).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Since Morse’s (1997) review of phylogenetic studies within the Trichoptera,  Johanson has undertaken significant analyses of evolutionary relationships within Helicopsyche (Johanson 1998, 2001, 2002, Johanson & Willassen 1997).Taken from Holzenthal et al. (2007).


Holzenthal R.W., Blahnik, R.J., Prather, A.L., and Kjer K.M. 2007. Order Trichoptera Kirby 1813 (Insecta), Caddisflies. In: Zhang, Z.-Q., and Shear, W.A. (Eds). 2007 Linneaus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy. Zootaxa 1668:639-698
Johanson, K.A. (1997) Zoogeography and diversity of the snail case caddisflies (Trichoptera: Helicopsychidae). In: Holzenthal, R.W. & Flint, O.S., Jr. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus, Ohio, pp. 205–212.
Johanson, K.A. (1998) Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of the family Helicopsychidae (Insecta: Trichoptera). Entomologica Scandinavica, Supplement, 53, 1–172.
Johanson, K.A. (2001) Phylogenetic and biogeographical analysis of the New Zealand Helicopsyche von Seibold (Trichoptera: Helicopsychidae). Insect Systematics and Evolution, 32, 107–120.
Johanson, K.A. (2002) A new primitive Helicopsyche from Madagascar (Trichoptera: Helicopsychidae), with phylogenetic analysis of Afrotropical species. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie, 145.
Johanson, K.A. & Willassen, E. (1997) Are the African species of Helicopsyche von Siebold 1856 (Insecta Trichoptera Helicopsychidae) monophyletic? Tropical Zoology, 10, 117–128.
Lea, I. (1834) Observations on the Naiades, and descriptions of new species of that and other families. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 4, 63–121.
Morse, J.C. (1997) Phylogeny of Trichoptera. Annual Review of Entomology, 42, 427–450.
Resh, V.H., Lamberti, G.A. & Wood, J.R. (1984) Biological studies of Helicopsyche borealis (Hagen) in a coastal California stream. In: Morse, J.C. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Dr. W. Junk, The Hague, pp. 315–319.
Ross, H.H. (1944) The caddisflies or Trichoptera of Illinois. Bulletin of the Illinois Natural History Survey, 23, 1–326.
Ulmer, G. (1906) Neuer beitrag zur kenntnis außereuropäischer Trichopteren. Notes from the Leyden Museum, 28, 1–116.
Ulmer, G. (1955) Köcherfliegen (Trichopteren) von den Sunda-Inseln. Teil II. Larven und Puppen der Integripalpia.Archiv für Hydrobiologie, Supplement, 21, 408–608.
Vaughn, C.C. (1985a) Evolutionary ecology of case architecture in the snailcase caddisfly, Helicopsyche borealis. Freshwater Invertebrate Biology, 54, 178–186.
Vaughn, C.C. (1985b) Life history of Helicopsyche borealis (Hagen) (Trichoptera: Helicopsychidae) in Oklahoma. American Midland Naturalist, 113, 76–83.
Vaughn, C.C. (1987) Substratum preference of the caddisfly Helicopsyche borealis (Hagen) (Trichoptera: Helicopsychidae). Hydrobiologia, 154, 201–205.
Williams, D.D., Read, A.T. & Moore, K.A. (1983) The biology and zoogeography of Helicopsyche borealis (Trichoptera: Helicopsychidae): a Nearctic representative of a tropical genus. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 61, 2288–2299.


An interesting and potential case of mimicry. Or just a possibility for confusion. Some of these caddisfly shells have already been spotted in a malacological collection, so curators may want to check their holdings…

Photo of the day (150): Bulimulus

Eduardo Vicente Fumarola kindly sent me some pictures of what seems to be Bulimulus apodemetus (d’Orbigny, 1835). He spotted these after rains at Salta, Argentina.

Hunting for snails

2013 already saw a glimpse of this off-topic. Non-neotropical land snails, mainly European, in old books and manuscripts; some recognisable, others not more than a rough sketch. You might say, what’s so funny about them? Yet, it turned out to be an intriguing hunt.

The title for this post, I found in a manuscript dated c. 1428 entitled ‘Livre des merveilles du monde’ or ‘Secrets de l’histoire naturelle’. This manuscript has excerpts from e.g. Plinius, Orosius, and other, with descriptions of myths and telling stories of traders and diplomats about countries from Africa and Asia. It provoked the interest in the exotic fauna of these regions, often perceived as ‘magical and dream-like’ (LeGoff, 1999). One of the stories, about Sri Lanka, is illuminated with a picture of the snails. One is empty and two people are chatting on it. The other is being hunted up-hill by a man blowing the horn and with four dogs. Hunting for a giant snail…

Perhaps first how I ended up here anyway. Working on a manuscript on Cuban Liguus, the question arose if their murky taxonomy perhaps had been influenced by early pictures. This started off an iconographic search for old pictures of these often colour-full tree snails in shell books. Having finished the manuscript together with Luis Álvarez and Adrián González, I suddenly realised that I had seen a similar shell on a painting. Starting searching rather quickly revealed one on this oilpainting of Balthazar van der Ast, A Dutch painter who worked in the early 17th century in Utrecht and Delft, but was trained in Middelburg by his father-in-law Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder.

Questions came up: Was this the only example of a Liguus shell on a painting? If not, which other tropical species have been used? By whom, and when do they start appearing on painting? And where originated these paintings? To dig up answers more art historian expertise and data were needed. Found them in my collaborator Susan de Heer and at the Netherlands Institute of Art History, which has a huge archive of pictures (partly online) and a well-supplied library. Now the hunt was on, both on-line and off-line.

Besides art historical reflections (e.g. the symbolic meaning of a snail), not my expertise at all, I soon wondered about other questions: Have land shells in general been used by artists on paintings? On other works of (visual) arts? When did this start? Did they accurately picture a shell or snail, or were these merely generalised illustrations? If they seemed more accurately figured, what would be the best guess about their identification?

Meanwhile I have found hundreds of (references to) snail illustrations in various sources. Not to distract you from this blog main subject, I have created a new space for discussing these: Have a look there too if you like this art historical stance (otherwise make sure to come back here 🙂

LeGoff, J. (1999). Un autre Moyen Age: 1–1404. Gallimard, Paris.