Guy Coppois (at the Université Libre de Bruxelles) has for many years been interested in Galápagos snails, particularly the Naesiotus species living there. Back in the 1970s we wrote a paper on this genus together, although I never met him (all data were exchanged by snail-mail). And in the 1980s he seemed to have based his PhD on this group, although his thesis was never published and till today I haven’t seen it.
Recently some Americans discovered that material from different museums had been sent on loan to Coppois and had never been returned. For several years he is now already retired at the University and doesn’t respond on emails. Thanks to the mediation of an entomological colleague, part of the loan material had already been recovered and returned, but on his request I went yesterday to ULB to see if anything else remained to be salvaged.
The room was in complete disorder, and chaotic is a mild expression for it. Boxes, collections of empty jars, old apparatuses and computers no longer in use, and piles of papers; it was a complete mess.
The Galápagos malacofauna has been studied during recent year by Christine Parent and students. They have found that in the field species have been hard to find and likely some species may have become extinct. The material that Coppois has collected, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, but some also from later date, has thus considerable scientific importance and should be well-kept in a professional collection.
In this context I have tried to find my way in this room and discovered in separate places parts of this collection. As a temporary measure I have put everything, as far as possible, together in one large box with a jar of alcohol preserved specimens kept separate. Between all the material I identified 4 lots from foreign museums that need to be returned; one from Senckenberg and three from the California Academy of Sciences.
This historical collection, although only some 30+ years old, is of special interest and we will make sure it will get a decent ‘home’.
To be continued…
Update: for the time being the collection will remain at ULB.