Monthly Archives: August 2016

New Megalobulimus from Peru

Borda & Ramirez (2016) have just published a new paper on Peruvian Megalobulimus species, in which they also describe two new species.

Schermafbeelding 2016-08-16 om 13.40.46

The abstract of their paper is: “A major taxonomic problem around the genus Megalobulimus Miller,1878, the largest land snails in the Neotropics, is plasticity of conchological characters. Here we re-describe Megalobulimus leucostoma (Sowerby, 1835) and describe two new species of Megalobulimus from Southern Peru, Megalobulimus tayacajus sp.nov. and Megalobulimus inambarisense sp.nov. These descriptions are based on both conchological and soft anatomical characters. Megalobulimus leucostoma is characterized by the presence of a retractor muscle with two insertions to the buccal mass, two small bulges on pre-rectal valve, and a geographical distribution appears limited to Cusco. Megalobulimus tayacajus sp.nov. is characterized by the presence of a retractor muscle that divides near the buccal mass, two lobed bulges on pre-rectal valve, and to date, has been found only in Huancavelica. Megalobulimus inambarisense sp.nov. is characterized by the presence of a retractor muscle with one insertion to the buccal mass, two big bulges on pre-rectal valve, and a distribution appears limited to Puno. The digestive system appears to serve as useful characters to discriminate these species and, when combined with shell and reproductive characters, may help to understand better the evolution and ecology of these snails”.

Borda, V. & Ramirez, R., 2016. The genus Megalobulimus (Gastropoda: Strophocheilidae) from Peruvian Andes: Re-description of Megalobulimus leucostoma and description of two new species. – American Malacological Bulletin 34: 15–27.

On the history of malacology

Just launched: a new site on the history of malacology! It is named Malacohistory and can be found following the link in the picture below.

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The introduction reads “Some regard Aristotle as the first malacologist (Coan & Kabat, 2016), but it is not that far that we like to go back in time with this site on malacohistory. Rather we prefer to focus on the 19th and 20th century when malacology became fashionable among amateurs and also the first professional malacologists appeared as staff members of natural history museums. Collecting shells, however, started much earlier (see e.g. Dance, 1966 for an extensive review), and the interest for snails as such is notable in literature and visual arts from early on in history (see the site Huntingforsnails). For practical reasons, we will focus especially on European malacologists, their collections and their fate, and the context in which they operated. (…) Both well-known persons will come across as well as hitherto completely unknown people who contributed (often in a modest way) to European malacology. We intend to publish on this site data that we obtained through our research, background data used for publications, and preliminary data. This can be either biographical data, data on the location of (part of) collections, and other facts that help to explain the development of malacology in Europe. Also new insights from literature and methodological notes may find its place here in blog posts”.

Big questions, small bricks
Is this site a hobby-ish endeavour or is it aimed at contributing to a ‘Bigger Picture’? The latter sounds pretentious, but nevertheless it is possible to come up with some big questions to which this site may lead to (or is at least hoped for) helping formulate some answers. How did malacology develop in Europe? Where were the centres of activity and how did these develop over time? Who were the driving persons and how were they linked? What was the role of scientific societies in relation to malacology in different parts of the continent? What other factors did influence the development of molluscan studies? What was the role of amateurs, professionals, and shell dealers, and how did the balance between these groups change over time? What was the role of women? How did specialised journals foster the discipline of malacology? To summarise: how was the ancient science network of malacology shaped in Europe during these centuries (and especially the period 1850–1950)?
Clearly a lot of questions and for the moment in most cases only a beginning of an answer or a vague feeling in which direction we have to search for it. However, hopefully the posts on this site will act as small bricks from which a solid building can be erected in the end. And, as one of my tutors, Pieter Wagenaar Hummelinck always said: “We can not all be masons, there must also be people who bring the stones”.

So far, only a limited number of posts have been published, but contributions of readers are very welcomed. The site is edited by Cédric Audibert (Musée des Confluences, Centre de conservation et d’étude des collections, Lyon, France) and myself.