Monthly Archives: November 2015

Molluscs in the news

Two news items came to my attention today. The first has been taken from the Conch-L list and is about conservation of Florida land snails. “Florida Fish and Wildlife [Conservation Commission] has just sent out a posting regarding endangered and threatened species. There are two proposed rulings on Tree snails. The one  is Liguus and the other is Orthalicus. Here is the Liguus and other species  link.”. Only Liguus fasciatus is mentioned, together with more than 50 species of other phyla.

Liguus Florida

The ‘Science in the news’ site had an item on natural history museums and how these institutions, behind the scenes, are centers of cutting-edge research. One example is the recent discovery of a Plekocheilus species, collected back in the 1800s. More brushing off the dust than cutting the edge, but anyway…


Photo of the day (163): Drymaeus and Cerion

François van der Hoeven regularly sends reports of small expeditions to discover forgotten and new things on the island of Curaçao. This time a report on their wanderings at plantation Wacao. At the end of their trip the rain started pouring. Time for snails to become awake and be on the move…

29 Nu gaan de slakken lopen - foto Carel 30 Zelfs de Cerion uva - foto Carel

These two pictures of Drymaeus elongatus respectively Cerion uva were made by Carel de Haseth.

New paper published

A new paper was just published which may be of interest to collection managers and people with biohistorical interest. It is about the collection of ‘autographs’ in the Dautzenberg archives in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, and contains letters or postcards of more than 450 persons contemporary to Dautzenberg (1849-1935). Of these handwritten correspondence nearly 70 examples are given, while the appendix has a full list of correspondents. For several of them new or additional biographical data are presented.


The paper can be freely downloaded following the link on my publications page.

Chilean bulimulids

Just published in a not-so-common journal for a taxonomical paper: Juan Francisco Araya’s new paper on Bulimulidae from the Atacama region in Chile. This desert-like environment is only seemingly unfavorable for snails and is little researched so far.


The abstract reads: “The bulimulid genus Bostryx Troschel, 1847 is the most species-rich genus of land snails found in Chile, with the majority of its species found only in the northern part of the country, usually in arid coastal zones. This genus has been sparsely studied in Chile and there is little information on their distribution, diversity or ecology. Here, for the first time, a formal analysis of the diversity of bulimulids in the Region de Atacama, northern Chile, is reported. Of the seventeen species recorded for the area, most of themwere efectively found in the field collections and one record was based on literature. Five taxa are described as new: Bostryx ancavilorum sp. nov., Bostryx breurei sp. nov., Bostryx calderaensis sp. nov., Bostryx ireneae sp. nov. and Bostryx valdovinosi sp. nov., and the known geographic distribution of seven species is extended. Results reveal that the Region de Atacama is the richest region in terrestrial snails in Chile, after the Juan Fernandez Archipelago. All of the terrestrial molluscan species occurring in the area are endemic to Chile, most of them with restricted geographic distributions along the coastal zones, and none of them are currently protected by law. Further sampling in northern Chile will probably reveal more snail species to be discovered and described”. The study of Araya is thus a welcome additional to our knowledge of the Neotropical malacofauna.

Araya, J.F. (2015). The Bulimulidae (Mollusca: Pulmonata) from the Region de Atacama, northern Chile. – PeerJ 3: e1383. Available at

Copulation in Cuban Jeanneretia

The biology of Neotropical land snails is largely unknown, and data on copulation is only hard to find. Recently a study on the mating behaviour of some Jeanneretia in Cuba was done, which received the Unitas Malacologica Student Research Award 2014 (Hernández Quinta, 2015).


Major findings of the study are the variability in the location of the accessory copulation organ between different taxa, and the absence of a sensitive zone as observed in Polymita. The total duration of courtship appears to be relatively short compared to data from literature. A brief version of the study just appeared in the UM Newsletter.

Hernández Quinta, M. (2015) Mating behaviour in Jeanneretia ss. (Helicoidea: Cepolidae), endemic of the western region of Cuba. – Unitas Malacologica Newsletter 35: 7-9.

New journal

It is not an every day activity, but recently the publishers Taylor & Francis (known from the Journal of Molluscan Studies) launched a new journal: Neotropical Biodiversity. It is an open access journal, but remarkable is it charges no author fees (the only other example I know is the European Journal of Taxonomy). The expenses of open access publishing in Neotropical Biodiversity are covered by Ecuador´s National Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. This means there are no article publishing charges and your article will be freely available for everyone on publication.


I was quite surprised about the involvement of the Ecuadorian government, but if this is a sign of real commitment with biodiversity research (and nature conservation) it is only to be appreciated very much. The scope of the journal is broad and the editorial board is dominated by Ecuadorians and Americans. The first issue is in progress and has so far papers on mites and frogs.

A welcome addition as outlet for papers on the Neotropics. Let’s hope that it will stimulate researchers in this realm to do research that is worth publishing in this journal.


3 days of 3D – Day 3

Wednesday 4-11-2015 Geometric Morphometrics (Microscribe and laser scanning)

3D Trex

10.30 – 11.00 Measuring shape in biology – a short guide to Geometric Morphometrics
Thibaut De Meulemeester – Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The basics of GMM will be introduced and explained with some examples using 2D and 3D morphometrics. Traditional morphometrics (distances, angles, ratios) is limited by influence of size, and the shape cannot be analyzed. There is GMM for, either with landmarks or outlines. Procures superimposition removes the non-shape variation (scale, translation, rotation). More information on

11.00 – 11.20 Tracking and printing dinosaurs: 3D scanning and 3D printing in the upcoming dinosaur exhibits in Naturalis
Anne Schulp – Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Next year, Naturalis will present a new Tyrannosaurus rex specimen, and in 2018, the new dinosaur gallery in the new museum will open. The developments in 3D imaging and 3D printing techniques have many applications in paleontology; not only in research but also in outreach and museology. The upcoming “Welcome T. rex”-exhibition at Naturalis will feature (the results of) 3D Laser scanning, 3D photogrammetry, CT-scanning and 3D printing. This short presentation will provide an overview of the ongoing 3D projects on and around the Naturalis T. rex.

11.20 – 11.50
Hans Cornelisse – GOM/Optical Measuring Techniques

Examples and possibilities using laser and light scanners. It can only be applied to non-live materials and ‘sees’ what humans see (not looking around the corner). Software to make your model visible is the crucial step.

11.50 – 12.20 “Why do different birds have different beaks? Linking shape with biomechanics”
Jen Bright – University of Sheffield

During evolution we see how animals change in shape to become better adapted to their environments, but what is not always clear is why a certain shape is better than another. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a method borrowed from engineering that can be used to see how complex shapes (like skulls and other bones) respond to forces that an animal encounters every day, like biting on food, running, or fighting. By using FEA together with shape analysis like geometric morphometrics, we can investigate how the relationship between shape and function works. Jen will show these ideas using examples from modern birds, and also show how everyone who is interested can help us build the biggest shape database of bird beaks ever collected!

Wrapping up

Especially the last lecture showed me that ‘borrowing’ a technique from a different discipline can further the progress in a research field. The application in the Mark my Bird project ( opens up the perspective to get a deep understanding of bird evolution once understanding functional morphology has progressed.