Monthly Archives: June 2017

Philippi and his malacological contribution

Just published in the latest issue of the journal Malacologia: two papers authored by Coan and Kabat on the life of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808-1904) and his contributions to malacology.

This paper provides a biography of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808–1904), emphasizing his malacological research and his contributions to the natural history of Chile. Philippi is one of the most important, yet overlooked malacologists of the 19th century. He authored significant publications on the Recent and fossil molluscs of Sicily; the Oligocene fossil molluscs of northern Germany; the Jurassic to Recent molluscs of Chile, and marine molluscs from around the world. Philippi was also an instrumental contributor to both the Zeitschrift für Malakozoologie and the second edition of the Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet, and he founded the Abbildungen und Beschreibungen neuer oder wenig gekannter Conchylien”.

Rudolph Amandus Philippi (known in Chile as Rodulfo Amando Philippi), was one of the longest-lived and most prolific malacologists of the 19th century, as his scientific work began in Germany in the 1830s and continued unabated until his death in Chile in 1904. Philippi contributed significantly to malacology: he described over 2,500 new taxa of Recent and fossil molluscs from around the world (2,528 species, 40 genera and three families), particularly from Italy and Chile, and discussed numerous taxa described by other authors. Philippi initially published primarily on Recent and fossil molluscs from Europe in the 1830s, then expanded to marine molluscs from around the world by the 1840s. In 1851, Philippi escaped the German Revolution by emigrating to Chile, where in 1853 he became the director of what is now the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (Santiago) and a professor at the Universidad de Chile. Philippi’s contributions to malacology after his move to Chile were primarily on the fossil molluscs of Chile. Philippi also made significant contributions to the systematics of numerous other animal taxa as well as in botany. In a companion paper (Kabat & Coan, 2017), we provide an analysis of Philippi’s life and scientific contributions. This paper catalogs Philippi’s malacological publications and taxa”.

The authors undoubtedly have made a grand effort to bring Philippi to life, both in uncovering some unknown or obscure aspects about his life, and by bringing together a insightful review of his malacological legacy.

Coan, E.V. & Kabat, A.R., 2017. The Malacological Contributions of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808–1904). – Malacologia, 60(1–2):31-322.
Kabat, A.R. & Coan, E.V., 2017. The Life and Work of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808–1904). – Malacologia, 60(1–2):1-30.

Pinning down Tenuistemma

Under this (beginning of the) title, Uit de Weerd & Fernández has just made available a paper on the distribution and relationships of an Urocopitid species from eastern Cuba.

We report an extraordinary case of local and extreme shell-morphological differentiation within a group of otherwise relatively uniform eastern Cuban land snails. Analyses of multi-copy nuclear (ITS2) and of mitochondrial (COI) DNA sequences congruently place the ‘genus’ Tenuistemma, occurring monotypically on the Yunque de Baracoa mountain in eastern Cuba, within the more wide-spread species Pleurostemma perplicata from adjacent lower areas. This result is in sharp contrast with patterns of variation in supposedly diagnostic shell-morphological characters, namely (1) differences in both shell form and shell sculpture between Tenuistemma and P. perplicata, (2) the shell- morphological coherence of paraphyletic P. perplicata and (3) the resemblance between P. perplicata and phylogenetically and geographically more distant species placed in Pleurostemma. We conclude that Tenuistemma evolved from P. perplicata on the Yunque de Baracoa, a process that probably started between 0.01 and 1.42 million years ago. The remarkable set of shell features distinguishing Tenuistemma from P. perplicata probably evolved as a result of unique local selection pressures, possibly affecting multiple characters linked in shell development. This study provides a basis for further research into the evolutionary processes behind this remarkable morphological transition. To render the genus Pleurostemma monophyletic, we propose to transfer P. perplicata to the genus Tenuistemma”.

This research is interesting as it hypothesises on the local evolution of snails under different factors. As such there is a link to research on carinated species, of which a paper on Peruvian Bostryx is currently being prepared.

Uit de Weerd, D.R. & Fernández V., A., 2017. Pinning down Tenuistemma (Pulmonata: Urocoptidae): local evolution of an extreme shell type. – Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, XX: 1-12. DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/blx041