Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tentacle 22

Robert Cowie just released the annual number of Tentacle; this journal on molluscs conservation issues has reached now issue 22.


Regarding the Neotropical realm contributions are made by some authors that regularly use Tentacle as outlet. Agudo Padrón & Souza da Luz report briefly on a study about conservation of non-marine molluscs in remaining urban forests. In such a remnant in Florianópolis they found 15 native species and 9 alien ones. The first author also briefly reports on richness and regional distribution within the state of Santa Catarina in a second article.

The announcement of a consulting process together with experts to evaluate the extinction risk of non-marine molluscs in Brazil by  Santos & Carvalho; the evaluating workshop is scheduled for September 2014.

Santos, Oliveira & Vasconcelos report on ecological research in the Atlantic Forest of Ilha Grande, Brazil. This is part of a larger research programme spanning all Brazilian biomes, and the first to include land and freshwater snails.

Maceira et al. contribute to this issue with a note “Molluscs and their conservation problems in the San Miguel de Parada Faunal Refuge, eastern Cuba”. Four terrestrial species are reproted, of which two exotic species.

The entire issue can be found here:

Type specimens in Rio de Janeiro

Type catalogues are the ‘telephone dictionaries’ of taxonomy. It is very convenient to have all data for a museum collection together in one publication, especially if the the collection isn’t digitalised and data is spread over many publications.

Pimenta et al. (2014) just published such catalogue for the molluscan collection of the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro (MNRJ). In total 518 type lots have been recognised, representing 247 Gastropoda taxa, 30 Bivalvia taxa, 3 Cephalopoda taxa and 5 Scaphopoda taxa. After a very brief introduction, all taxa are listed alphabetically by class and by species name; the family name is included between square brackets. Some type specimens have been figured as well. In an appendix the taxa are listed per family.

Pimenta 2014

Land snail families represented are (number of taxa between parentheses): Succineidae (2), Charopidae (1), Orthalicidae sensu lato (29), Strophocheilidae (3), Clausiliidae (2). Of the latter family two taxa are excluded as types in the main text. In some cases the family names in the list do not correspond to those presented in the appendix; especially those belonging to the Orthalicoidea are treated in a confusing way (e.g., taxa belonging to the same genus allocated seemingly at random to one of two families). The family arrangement presented is clearly not up-to-date and conflicting with recent insights.

Finally, it is clear that type material from several taxa has been exchanged or deposited in the MNRJ after the original paper had been published (e.g.  several Weyrauch taxa), or that incorrect catalogue numbers have been published in recent works. All these data makes this ‘telephone directory’ useful for future reference.

Pimenta, A.D., Monteiro, J.C., Barbosa, A.F., Salgado, N.C. & Santos Coelho, A.C. dos (2014). Catalogue of the type specimens deposited in the Mollusca collection of the Museu Nacional / UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. — Zootaxa 3780: 51–107.

London types (III)

Just published by ZooKeys: Breure ASH, Ablett JD (2014) Annotated type catalogue of the Bulimulidae (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Orthalicoidea) in the Natural History Museum, London. ZooKeys 392: 1–367. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.392.6328 (abstract and PDF).
It took Jonathan Ablett and myself a long way to finish this part of our sequel on London type material. Nevertheless, I actively discourage you to read it all. Too many pages of dull text and too many shell-shots (and labels in a different series for practical reasons); even the abstract is boring by today’s standard of spicy science publications that are wanted by our pr officers and above 😉 Is this the future of our discipline…?
Although it is buried deep down in the text, I would like to call attention to the suspicious status of specimens originating from the Hans Schlesch collection. See page 14, 116, 150; evidence is shown below. Looking innocent, it is suppsed to be type material for a taxon described in 1900, while the specimens were collected during an expedition in 1905–1906. One cannot deny the creativity of some people… Curators may  check their holdings for, what is called nowadays, ‘data manipulation’.


An elegant U-loop?

Invasive species are a well-documented when they are discovered in countries with good monitoring systems. However, in some instances these ‘hidden secrets’ of economic liberalisation and globalisation stay under the radar of authorities and scientists.

David Robinson kindly sent an example of this when showing me these pictures.


This is a Bulimulus species, possibly B. sporadicus (d’Orbigny, 1835); the specimen is not fully grown.

At first I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read where it originated from. Guinea? Perhaps an error for Guiana? No, it’s the West African country!! A Bulimulus species in Africa?!?

These specimens (not the first instance!) were intercepted when they were brought into a U.S.A. port. David said it is likely that they first were exported from the Houston area with oil-drilling equipment. “Most of the oil-drilling equipment goes to West African countries from Houston where the containers get contaminated. The port areas must be crawling with invasive snails there. Then when the containers come back to different ports in the US, they are crawling with Texan snails.”

This implies that in several countries lots of American and European species must be present (we know the reports, don’t we?), but this is the first time I hear that an alien species in one country becomes an exotic in a second one and then gets re-imported in the first country at different places. My ‘U-loop’ hypothesis, perhaps logical that it should happen one day, is here reported for the first bulimulid species criss-crossing the ocean.

Land snails and spider webs

A few years ago I published a brief paper on dangling snails. Dan Dourson just sent me the following text and picture:

“While crawling across a spider web, a flat bladetooth, Patera appressa appears to glean precious (condensed) water during a dry period in late July, Red River Gorge, Powell County, Kentucky. Land snails are often seen on spider webs, crawling effortlessly across the web’s sticky surface without becoming entangled; an act that would imprison most other invertebrates of similar size. There is some evidence that snails are attracted to the silk nets (that trap condensed moisture) for a source of drinking water.”

spider web DD

Not truly Neotropical, but still interesting enough to share here.

Lysinoe ghiesbeghti

Dan Dourson, who is busy preparing a publication on the land snails from Belize, kindly sent me some pictures of Lysinoe ghiesbreghti (Nyst, 1841), for which Thompson (2011, Bull. Florida Mus. Nat. Hist. 50) list several subspecies. The type locality being Mexico, Chiapas, these subspecies range through Guatemala and Honduras. Dan wrote “have not found them in Belize (yet) but so impressed with their massive size!”. He did not write from which locality these are, but these giants are a nice view anyhow.


Thanks Dan!

A puzzling citation

The search started when, during preparation of a manuscript on Liguus, I found a mysterious citation in Chemnitz (1786: 9). It read “Encyclop. Rec. de Pl. tom. 6 tab. 64 fig. 2”. The first word should be “Encyclopédie” and everything suggested it to be a French title. But no author, and I couldn’t readily find a full reference to it as no author was given. In the 10th and 12th editions of Linnaeus’ Systema naturae no mentioning of it, so at least we could conclude – if it was a pre-Linnean source – it was not well-known; likely it was post-1767 (12th ed.) and pre-1786 (Chemnitz).

One colleague suggested Bruguière’s ‘Encyclopédie méthodique…’, but (1) this was published post-1786, and (2) this didn’t have a plate 64. Nevertheless, I found in Bruguière 1792: 363 the same citation “Encyclop. Recueil des planches. t.m. 6, pl. 64, fig. 2”. Thus definitely a French book.

After having consulted several internet sources in vain (a.o. BHL, AnimaleBase), I sent some mail requests to colleagues. Finally, a library staff member of the Natural History Museum, London, turned up the book on the internet [1]. As expected it is French, without author name (making it hard to find) and was published in 1768.


Quite unexpectedly I found the figure referred to by Chemnitz arranged with  the fishes (‘Poissons’). At least in this internet version it is a very poor figure, hard to say what species it is if one had no clue [2].


The explanation of the plate reads:


This describes the colour pattern of Liguus virgineus (L., 1758) very well and the locality “Saint-Domingue” [Hispaniola] refers to the known occurrence.

Chapeau to Kamila Harper-Reekie (NHM Library) who laid the cornerstone for solving this puzzle!

Anonymous (1768): Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts liberaux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication. Cinquième livraison, ou sixième volume: [61 pp. +] 104 [+1] + 14 + 9 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 8 + 7 pls. Paris (Briasson, David & Le Breton).
Chemnitz, J.H. (1786): Neues systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet. Neunten Bandes zwote Abtheilung, enthaltend die ausfürliche Beschreibung von der Land- und Flussschnecken, oder von solchen Conchylien, welche nicht im Meere, sondern auf der Erde und in süssen Wassern zu leben pflegen: xxvi + 194 pp., pl. 117–136. Nürnberg (Raspe).